Welcome to Day #12 in the 31 day series on my brother. Today (with my Writing Sis’s permission) I am republishing an article she wrote about Brian almost 15 years ago for her high school newspaper.
“‘When I grow up I’m going to college at Notre Dame.’ These were the words of Rudy, a young man who pursued his life-long dream of going to school at Notre Dame to play football with the Fighting Irish. Everyone told him he wasn’t good enough, smart enough, or big enough, but he persevered and today his story is legendary.
A young man with similar dreams is my brother Brian. Brian is eighteen years old and has a cognitive impairment called Down Syndrome. As a result of his disability, Brian learns at a slower pace than most kids his age. He also has some of the physical characteristics of people with Down Syndrome, like small facial features and a short, stocky build. However, none of these things have stopped Brian from dreaming big dreams for himself. Despite his disabilities, he has confidence that he will succeed. ‘I can do anything I want to do’, Brian said.
‘I had many surgeries as a kid,’ Brian said, ‘like heart surgery, tongue surgery, and nose surgery.’ During one of his operations, Brian reacted to the anesthetic and his heart stopped beating temporarily. He was given a drug called Atrophine to get his heart beating again. Brian recalls the incident as a close encounter with death. ‘It was scary’, he said.
Today Brian is not restrained by any problems as he was as a child. In fact, he is a healthy and active young adult who enjoys many activities including football, music, reading and watching movies. ‘My favorite movies are Toy Story and Grease‘, Brian said.
Brian has had the opportunity to participate in the Special Olympics. He has competed in the bowling, swimming, and basketball events. ‘I got a silver medal in swimming’, Brian recalls.
Besides winning medals and completing against other athletes, one of the highlights of Special Olympics for Brian was seeing one of his heroes, Chris Burke. ‘I saw Chris. He’s cool because he was on the TV show Life Goes On‘, Brian said.
His other hero is Rudy, the ambitious football player who set high goals for himself and reached them. Brian also sets big goals. He wants to graduate from high school, go to Notre Dame, have a large family, and live in San Francisco. He also wants to travel to China with the Army and do a lot of other traveling. ‘I will take my kids to Disney World’, Brian said.
Whether or not Brian accomplishes all his goals, he has a promising future ahead of him. He is a hard worker. ‘I have hard work syndrome’, Brian said. He is also passionate about his interests.
Many of Brian’s interests are similar to that of any high school student. He is a registered voter, has held a job at Wal-Mart, and he has a particular interest in his girlfriend, Sarah. Brian’s overall opinion of Sarah: ‘She’s hot!’
Generally speaking, Brian gets along with everyone he meets. The exception are his three sisters; when they tease him, he fights back. ‘They drive me nuts!’ he said. Otherwise he’s easy to get along with. ‘I like everyone’, Brian said.
Although Brian might not become another Rudy, a living legend in Notre Dame, and he might not become a famous actor, like Chris Burke, he certainly will become a successful, contributing member to society. Brian is a confident individual who has never let Down Syndrome get him down. ‘I have up syndrome!‘ Brian said, using his term for his disability. And considering his friendly smile and positive outlook on life, perhaps this title is a little more accurate.”
November 18th, 1997
Deep Breaths: When life has you down, do you look up? Just the other day I was trying to do a big project on my own strength. God gently, yet, directly, reminded me that He is there, waiting and able, to help; nothing is too hard for Him. In the good times and in trial, look up- look to the Lord.
Psalm 121:1-2 “I lift up my eyes to the mountains- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.