This is Ryan, he is the super sweet son and little brother of our friends TC, JC and their family. Ryan has Down Syndrome. I remember getting the texts from TC after he was born saying the possibility that he had Down Syndrome was on the table and while I was concerned that little Ryan be in the best possible health I was never concerned about TC and JC's ability to navigate this new world.
Gosh he is just a super sweet little cuddler and I can say on good authority that he lucked out in the parent department. I have known TC for close to 20 years and she's always been a great chick to have a laugh with. I haven't known JC for as long, but he's one of those guys that you just can't help, but like right from the moment you meet him. I cannot tell you how happy I am that they found each other.
But indulge me for a moment and let's take a trip back in time back to October 1954. A snowstorm and my Grandmother in labour stuck in a truck on the side of the road. My Grandfather leaves her to get help, by the time he returns Ricky has made his entrance to the world.
I'm not sure how they got from there to the diagnosis of Down Syndrome, but I do know that the only option offered in 1954 to my Grandparents was to leave him in an institution. My Grandmother refused and brought him home to his family.
And so began a journey that I'm sure wasn't easy. Ricky was the fourth of five kids raised in an old farm house with no indoor plumbing and all the cooking was done on an old wood fired cook stove. Definitely not easy. I have no doubt that Ricky had a happy life. He was much loved by our family and he very much loved us all back, but I often wonder how things could have been different for him. Born today he would have enjoyed a life that was fundamentally more independent. He very likely would of had a job, learned sign language and very possibly lived in a group home with support. He would of had an easier time communicating, he could have traveled and taken part in day programs. It would have been a whole new world.
All of these options and so much more will be available to Ryan and that is thanks to great organizations like the Down Syndrome Association of Hamilton. On Sunday September 29th, Mike, the girls and I are going to join Ryan's Rockstars and walk in the First Annual Buddy Walk in support of the great work being done by the D.S.A.H. We are walking for Ryan and his family, but also in memory of my Uncle Ricky who Mike and I miss every day. If you have a spare dollar to share please consider donating to Ryan's Rockstars.