Archive for the Down Syndrome Category

North Texas community embraces people with Down syndrome

Posted in Disability, Down Syndrome with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2018 by saynsumthn
Down syndrome

Blake Pyron, who lives in the small North Texas town of Sanger, has become the state’s first businessman with Down syndrome. Live Action recently sent a film crew to Denton County, Texas, to meet Blake, who, with the encouragement of his amazing family and supportive community, started Blake’s Snow Shack at the young age of 20.

Blake’s mother, Mary Ann, told Live Action News that she always wanted to be a mother. She has two sons: Mitchell, and his younger brother Blake, who was born with Down syndrome.

Blake became the youngest person in his city to own a business and he also became the first business owner with Down syndrome in his hometown of Sanger (and possibly all of Texas).

Image: Mary Ann and Blake Pyron for World Down Syndrome Day

Mary Ann and Blake Pyron for World Down Syndrome Day

As a result, Blake’s business has been recognized by Texas Governor Greg Abbott as well as other dignitaries, and Blake has been featured on many media outlets both nationally and internationally. Blake’s Snow Shack has also received a NASCAR endorsement.

Live Action News spoke with Mary Ann about how the community has embraced Blake. “Early on, I thought that it would be harder for Blake to make friends than his brother Mitchell,” she said. But that wasn’t the case. Blake is extremely outgoing and has become quite a legend in his community.

Image: Blake and brother Mitchell Pyron

Blake Pyron (R) and brother Mitchell Pyron (L)

“Once people people get to know him, they find it easy to like him. He has a lot of friends,” she stated.

One of Blake’s oldest and best friends is the son of Jennifer Watts, a long time friend of the family. Jennifer told Live Action News how her son Brance, who is currently playing football at Emporia State University in Kansas, became good friends with Blake.

Image: Jennifer Watts

Jennifer Watts

“My son was one of Blake’s ‘helpers.’ They were friends through school and lived in the same neighborhood,” she said. Blake and Brance began their friendship in the fourth grade. “Brance’s teacher, Mrs. Morris, was the one who was instrumental in that,” Jennifer said. “They were in the same home room and she knew Blake needed a helper. She had two or three students capable of managing their work and helping others. My son was one of them.”

Image: Brance Watts and Blake Pyron

Brance Watts (LH) and Blake Pyron (RH)

Jennifer said that the concept behind “Blake’s helper” was inclusion, and if Blake needed help, Brance would be a peer helper for him.

“Blake nicknamed Brance ‘Kip.’ And the name has stuck,” she said. “When Blake was participating in Special Olympics, Brance would get on the field and do his warm up walks and cheer him on.”

“Whenever Blake and Brance were in High School, Blake was part of their football team. He started out as a water boy and would run out through the sign. Their senior year, Blake was made an honorary team captain, ” Jennifer recalled.

Image: Blake Pyron and the Sanger football team

Blake  out front with Sanger football team

Pastor Jim Mann, an avid sports enthusiast and lead pastor at New Life Church in Sanger, has watched the community support Blake for years. Pastor Mann said that by the time he first met Blake, he was already embraced by the community. “He was a popular football team player, just one of the guys. That says a lot about a community to me.”

Image: Pastor Jim Mann

Pastor Jim Mann

Pastor Mann pointed to Blake’s family and praised the way Blake’s parents always encouraged him to do what he wanted to do.

Blake’s mom, Mary Ann, said exposure is key, and that Blake and her entire family loved to volunteer and do things around the community:

Our family served the community and that included Blake.  Because of that, we have had families tell us that their children are better people for having Blake as a friend. Family dynamic has also helped. His big brother Mitchell has been his biggest fan since day one.

Blake wanted to play football just like his big brother Mitchell, so Sanger High School and his coach made him the manager. He would run out with the flag in support of the team.

Blake’s football coach, Chuck Galbreath, was part of the community support for Blake and others with disabilities. He named not only Blake but another young student with Down syndrome, Austin Waters, as Honorary Team Captains.

“They’re an inspiration for all of us. I know for me, specifically,” the coach told the media in the video below.

“Whenever I talk to other moms, I tell them to be involved. All moms should be involved with their kids lives, but moms of kids with special needs have to do double time,” Mary Ann said.

She told Live Action News that as a result of the way Blake brought the community together around football, he was granted Sanger’s Citizen of the Year award in 2015.

Image: Blake Pyron gets Citizen of the Year Award

Blake receives Citizen of the Year award from Sanger, Texas

Blake graduated in 2015, but Mary Ann told Live Action News that because Blake paved the way, there is now another young man with Down syndrome at his old school who will have the same opportunities opening up to him. “If Blake had not paved the way, that wouldn’t be happening.”

In addition to football, Blake also loves music. His mother said she allowed Blake to follow his dreams and as a result, it was Blake that changed the world. “Blake loved music and we had a friend who taught him the guitar,” Mary Ann said. “He said, ‘If it doesn’t work, no hard feelings.’ And it worked.”

Image: Blake Pyron has Down syndrome and plays guitar

 

“[Our friend] said, ‘I never thought Blake could play the guitar. I am so glad I gave him the chance.’ He is now teaching a young lady with autism. Blake has opened his heart to expand.”

Pastor Mann said that family, church and community are key to coming alongside any family who has a child with special needs. New Life Church embraces all kinds of people, he said, pointing out that he has several families in his congregation who have disabilities or children with special needs. “When you have a church and an entire town behind you, it makes it a lot better,” he said.

Pastor Mann recalled the day that Blake hung out his shingle at Blake’s Snow Shack. “He was tearing it up – he had a lot of people eating snow cones.”

Image: Blake Pyron owns Blake's Snow Shack

Blake Pyron owns Blake’s Snow Shack

Although he usually doesn’t eat snow cones himself, Pastor Mann makes an effort to buy them from Blake anyway. “We’ve hired him a couple of times to do Vacation Bible School (VBS); he’s always the main attraction. The line is long.”

Live Action News asked these three how other communities could embrace people with Down syndrome just like Sanger has.

“Just embrace them like anyone else – just give them a chance,” Blake’s mother said. “Be accepting. Open your heart up to them as an individual, regardless of any diagnosis. Everyone should be seen as an equal. We are really all more alike than we are different.”

Jennifer agreed. “It means everything, the teacher being instrumental in creating a classroom environment where students of all abilities are welcome and where children help one another, the comradery and the team aspect, the environment she created — that’s real. I know it taught my son. It gave him an opportunity to help someone else and he felt good about that. It gave him an opportunity to help others. I felt it was just as beneficial to the quote unquote ‘normal students’ as it was to the students of disabilities.”

“Part of the solution is to celebrate people like Blake,” Pastor Mann stated. “Sanger has really embraced him, without being told they have to. It was authentic. It was real.”

“Blake brings hope to people,” said his number one fan, his mother Mary Ann. “He has such a wonderful personality. A lot of people with Down Syndrome do. I feel like these people who have gotten to know Blake – if they ever receive a diagnosis of Down syndrome, they will say, ‘Hey, I knew this really cool kid with Down syndrome.’”

Image: Blake Pyron

Down syndrome business owner Blake Pyron

 

Pastor Mann summed it all up: “You celebrate these people as people. See them for what they are and what they can contribute. Blake is always smiling. He always gives you a thumbs up. He is Sanger’s most famous resident. ”

Special Note: Wednesday, March 21st is World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) and Blake, as one of 12 speakers across the globe, has been invited to speak on Disability Employment at the United Nations Headquarters. Blake is expected to speak about the benefits and struggles of owning his own business, the reach of families that come to see him, and the impact his business has had within the community. The following day, on March 22, 2018, Blake will ring the NASDAQ opening bell at 8:30 am CT. Blake may be one of the first men with Down syndrome to to this.

    • This article is reprinted with permission. The original appeared here at Live Action News.

Note:

Blake speaks to United Nations (2018)

 

 

Blake was invited to ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange as well:

Meet Lucas, the first Gerber baby with Down syndrome

Posted in Down Syndrome with tags , , , , , on February 13, 2018 by saynsumthn
Image: Gerber selects first Baby with Down Syndrome in photo contest

Lucas Warren, an adorable baby with Down syndrome, has been selected as the newest Gerber Spokesbaby. The announcement came this morning on the TODAY Show and, according to the NBC show, “The 1-year-old from Dalton, Georgia, is the first child with Down syndrome to be named a Gerber baby since the contest’s start more than ninety years ago.”

Image of Gerber baby who has Down Syndrome

Lucas Warren, Gerber Spokesbaby

The iconic charcoal-sketched logo on Gerber’s packaging was originally a sketch of Ann Turner Cook at four months old. She became a Gerber baby in 1928, according to Inside Edition, and in 2016, Cook turned 90 years old. According to the baby food company, for the past several years, Gerber has held the annual photo contest where a panel of judges review entries to find, “children from birth to preschool age whose photos displayed expressiveness and consistency with Gerber’s heritage. Since the inception of Photo Search seven years ago, Gerber has awarded eight (twins in 2013) tiny tots the Photo Search crown.”

Image: Original Gerber Baby Ann Turner Cook

Original Gerber, Baby Ann Turner Cook

This year’s winning photo was submitted by the infant’s mother, Cortney Warren, who, according to the TODAY Show, “entered the Gerber contest on a whim, after a relative pointed out an ad seeking submissions. After posting a photo of Lucas on Instagram using the contest’s hashtag, Cortney and her husband, Jason, received the news that their son had been chosen from more than 140,000 entries to be the 2018 Gerber Spokesbaby.”

“He’s always been such a good baby. I’ve never met anyone to come into contact with Lucas and not smile,” Lucas’ proud mother said, “We didn’t actually find out he had Down syndrome until he was born…It’s never once changed how we felt about him, he was always our son.”

“He may have Down syndrome, but he’s always Lucas first,” Cortney added. “He’s got an awesome personality and he goes through the milestones of every child… we’re hoping when he grows up and looks back on this, he’ll be proud of himself and not ashamed of his disability.”

Image: Lucas Warren Gerber Spokesbaby

Lucas Warren, Gerber Spokesbaby

It was Lucas’ joy and his smile that convinced his parents to submit his photo. “I finally just decided to do it on a whim. I thought he was adorable and I felt well, maybe the world might,” Courtney said.

Lucas has won $50,000 that the family said will be used for his education, something that makes his father especially proud. “As a father, seeing your child exceed in life and go to school is something I’m looking forward to,” Jason said. “I just want him to look back and say…look at everything that I did.”

Bill Partyka, CEO and president of Gerber, told TODAY that Lucas’s smile and happy expression captured the hearts of the Gerber team. “Every year, we choose the baby who best exemplifies Gerber’s longstanding heritage of recognizing that every baby is a Gerber baby,” said Partyka. “This year, Lucas is the perfect fit.”

“We’re hoping this will impact everyone — that it will shed a little bit of light on the special needs community and help more individuals with special needs be accepted and not limited,” dad Jason Warren said. “They have the potential to change the world, just like everybody else.”

Image: Gerber baby Lucas along with his parents on Today Show

Gerber baby Lucas along with his parents on Today Show

Lucas’ parents are hopeful that this will encourage the disability community to know they are just as valuable as everyone else.

“We are hoping Lucas looks back on it and feels proud,” said Courtney, “I hope it shines light to the special needs community showing that they are just like you and me. They should be accepted not based on their looks, but based on who they are.”

This article is reprinted with permission. The original appeared here at Live Action News

Down Syndrome youth becomes youngest business owner in his home town

Posted in Down Syndrome with tags , , , , , , , on February 12, 2016 by saynsumthn

The owner of a Texas snow cone business is showing the world what Down Syndrome people can accomplish. 20 year-old Blake Pyron is the youngest person in his city to become a business owner. Blake is like every other young man. He has a girlfriend and he wants to earn his own money to take her to the movies. What makes Blake unique is that he has Down Syndrome. Blake is also the first Down Syndrome business owner in his hometown of Sanger and possibly in the whole state of Texas.

Blake Pyron Downs Business OWner

Blake was born to Mary Ann and Billy Pyron in 1996. Mary Ann told Live Action News that she was asked by her doctor to have an amniocentesis, but she refused. The couple had vowed to accept any child the Lord gave them, “We didn’t take it because we knew we would never have an abortion,” she said.

Mary Ann, was also born in Sanger and she said that she had never really heard about Downs before Blake’s birth. She detailed a gloomy prognosis for her son which was given to her family from medical personnel who she said gave her no hope. Her biggest fear was that Blake was going to die.

“Whenever Blake was born, I did not know what Down Syndrome was. I was just 25 years old and his father was 26. When the doctor came in and said she thought he had it, I said, she is crazy, he is so perfect. They just didn’t give us a lot of hope.”

Blake Pyron now age 20 (image credit: Blake's Facebook page)

Blake Pyron now age 20 (image credit: Blake’s Facebook page)

As Live Action News has previously reported, women who are told their preborn child has Down syndrome are often pressured into an abortion, something disability advocates call a horrible and violent form of discrimination. A 2012 academic review of published literature on abortion after a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome in the United States found that more than half of preborn children with Down syndrome are aborted. Nine hospital-based studies showed the rate of abortion to be as high as 85% when a preborn child is diagnosed with Down syndrome.

Mary Ann and Billy Pyron, big brother Mitchell Pyron, and Blake Pyron (photo credit : Pyron Family)

Mary Ann and Billy Pyron, big brother Mitchell Pyron, and Blake Pyron (photo credit : Pyron Family)

The prognosis the Pyron family received was bleak, but, Mary Ann said she and her husband refused to believe that report. “In the hospital they were like, ‘Well, he might be able to walk, he might be able to talk,‘” Mary Ann recalled. “They didn’t give us much hope for Blake’s plans. But we had faith,” she told WFAA a local Dallas news outlet.

We always knew in our heart that this wasn’t the truth – that God has a plan for Blake.” And Mary Ann was right. Blake far superseded the doctor’s predictions and went on to become a football captain, the prom king, citizen of the year for Sanger, DFW super Star, and has been in a country music video.

“We are the ones that label the disabled, no where in the Bible does it say disabled. That is a man-made label we chose to put on these kids.”

“Blake is removing boundaries for these kids,” his mother said.

Mary Ann explained that when Blake was born the family did not have blogs, Facebook or websites to go to and reach out to others with the same struggles. She said only one family that she met had a Downs child. “We just raised Blake like we raised our oldest son Mitchell. Downs was such a small part of Blake, we knew God had plans for Blake.”

Blake Pyron (image credit: Blake's Snow Shack)

Blake Pyron (image credit: Blake’s Snow Shack)

Part of God’s plan is Blake’s Snow Shack which has opened a door for Blake and his family to tell their story. In October, Blake applied for a permit for the business. He then appeared before the City Council. Mary Ann reports that as God would have it, the approval letter for Blake’s Snow Shack arrived 20 years to the date when she and her husband said they received Blake’s diagnosis.

Blake is first Downs business owner in Sanger, Texas

Blake is first Downs business owner in Sanger, Texas

“We did some research and came across this snow cone business. When we finally got the paper from the city we realized that it was 20 years ago at that exact same time that the hospital was telling us he had Downs. And here he is becoming the first Downs business owner in Sanger and the youngest business owner. Possibly the only one person with Downs in Texas to own a business.”

Blake and his best friend Tanner (image: Blake's Snow Shack FB page)

Blake and his best friend Tanner (image: Blake’s Snow Shack FB page)

Blake who is the president of the company told Live Action News and that he is very excited about the business and he loves all the interviews. He has always wanted to be a business owner and said he looks up to his friend and neighbor Tanner Maple who will help him as his first employee. Blake admits that he really loves snow cones, noting that his favorite flavor is “blue coconut.” Live Action News asked Blake how many flavors Blake’s Snow Shack will provide, and he replied, “We are going to have a bunch.”

Blake Pyron (image credit Blake's Snow Shack FB page)

Blake Pyron (image credit Blake’s Snow Shack FB page)

Blake’s Snow Shack will open in April. After hearing Blake’s story, a Dallas Ad agency reached out to the Pyrons and has committed to helping Blake with his grand opening which will take place May 7, 2016.

Blakes Snow Shack549474043413110255_n

In advance of the opening, supporters of Blake and his business venture can place orders for a Blake’s Snow Shack T-shirt on his Facebook page here.

For Mary Ann it has never been about a snow cone business, for her it is about the babies and how Blake’s story will help mothers of these children understand how full their lives are, “Our lives are so rich because of Blake, I couldn’t imagine life without him,” Mary Ann said.

“I love it – when Blake was born we literally had one family to go to. I am deeply concerned that mothers of Downs babies are getting these blood tests and people that would never consider abortion lean towards it because doctors are telling them horrible things about it.”

Mary Ann said that Blake’s story has been picked up by a number of major media outlets and as a result she has been contacted from mothers as far away as Europe. Mary Ann said that because of Blake’s story, she has counseled many mothers who have received a report of Downs. She wants any mother who is given this diagnosis to feel free to reach out to her and has given Live Action News permission to publish an e-mail address where she can be reached. That address is maryannpyron@hotmail.com.

“I’ve had people tell me that Blake has changed them. I know that is the reason God put Blake here.”

Mom of Down Syndrome son”How many parents have been this lucky?”

Posted in Down Syndrome with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 11, 2016 by saynsumthn

I have never, ever regretted that he was born with an extra chromosome. He’s exactly the way he is,” those are the words of the loving mother of a Down syndrome son who was recently featured in a Texas paper. Women who are told their preborn child has Down syndrome are often pressured into an abortion, something advocates of these precious people call a horrible and violent form of discrimination.

Shelley and COnnor Moore

Over the Christmas holiday, the Ft Worth Star Telegram did a feature on mother Shelley Moore which brought me to tears. The love that this 50 year-old single mother has for her 20 year-old son jumped off the pages as I read through the Telegram’s report. It was apparent that the reporter was also moved by the love between son Conner David Moore, who not only has Down syndrome but heart issues and autism and his mother and described it this way, “[Shelley] changes her son’s diaper, feeds him and talks to him in a loving language that only the two of them fully understand.

Connor is the love of my life,” Shelley told the paper. Connor has had four open heart surgeries and three pacemakers. Despite the fact that Connor requires 24 hour care, his mother calls him “such a joy to be around everyday.” The American Airlines flight attendant who also calls her son a “special little gift” said her job gives her the flexibility to spend lots of time with Connor.

    “Parenting a special-needs child is not an easy task. It takes every ounce of your being.

    “… What this precious boy gives to me is far beyond anything I could have dreamed of. For the most part, I have forfeited my social life to be Conner’s everything — simply because he is my everything. My only child, the circle of life ends here for us.”

Shelley told the paper that there is a lot of work involved in having a child like Connor. She gets up and goes to sleep on his schedule and refers to Connor as “God’s little angel.” The mother who said she did the story because she wanted, “to help other parents, single or not, to be encouraged about the job you have been given and the reward that comes with that job,” called the time she has had with Connor “borrowed time from God.” Connor faces some serious heart issues but Shelley said they have seen many “medical miracles.”

Shelley Moore said that she considers herself lucky to have her Down syndrome son Connor, “I have never, ever regretted that he was born with an extra chromosome. He’s exactly the way he is,” Moore told the Telegram reporter.

    “If I could wave a wand and make Conner different, I would not even consider it.”

    “This boy is beautiful. I see God in him every single day. How many parents have been this lucky?”

According to the Center for Disease Control ( CDC) Down syndrome remains the most common chromosomal condition diagnosed in the United States. Each year, about 6,000 babies born in the United States have Down syndrome. This means that Down syndrome occurs in about 1 out of every 700 babies.

A 2012 academic review of published literature on pregnancy termination following a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome in the United States found that between 60 and 90 percent of fetal Down syndrome diagnoses lead to abortion. As a result, pro-lifers in Ohio have pushed lawmakers to make it illegal for a doctor to perform an abortion if a woman is terminating her pregnancy to avoid having a baby with Down syndrome. The New York Times reports that in 2013, North Dakota made it illegal for a doctor to perform an abortion because of fetal genetic anomalies, including Down syndrome. Indiana and South Dakota considered similar laws in 2015. Missouri is set to consider such a law in 2016.

According to the public research group Charlotte Lozier Institute there are no requirements to track abortions as a result of a fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome within the United States. Mark Bradford, president of the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation USA, named after the father of modern genetics, which researches Down syndrome, says that 2015 research also published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics claims the population of those living with Down syndrome has been reduced by 30% between 1974 and 2010 due to prenatal diagnosis and abortion. A new blood test, which can predict if a preborn child will have Down syndrome earlier in the pregnancy has led many to fear that preborn Downs babies will become even more vulnerable to being aborted.

Bradford points out that prenatal testing may result in babies who are not Downs being aborted as well. The 2012 study shows that 67% of those who choose to abort a child with Down syndrome in the U.S. are aborting an otherwise “wanted child” solely because of the result of a prenatal diagnosis, and because they fear what the future may bring. In addition, according to Bradford, research reports indicate that some women are using the early Downs blood tests to make the decision to end their pregnancy without having the result confirmed. Bradford called the targeting of Down syndrome children with abortion the most horrible and violent form of discrimination:

    “Whatever the statistical realities may be, the number of those who choose abortion after a prenatal diagnosis is far too high. It should be none. To paraphrase the recently deceased disabilities rights activist, Dr. Adrienne Asch, the only thing prenatal diagnosis can provide is a first impression of who a child will be. Making such a radical decision as to end the life of a child based upon a first impression is a most horrible and violent form of discrimination. It has no place in an American society that is committed to ending discrimination in any form and that has intensified that effort for persons with disabilities over the last 25 years since the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in July 1990.”

(Read the Ft Worth Star Telegram report here.)

Man says Down Syndrome daughter referred to as a “pet” by Florida doctor

Posted in Down Syndrome with tags , , , , , , , on January 15, 2014 by saynsumthn

Patrick Manning_nA Man on Facebook is claiming that his Downs Syndrome daughter was referred to as an animal by a Florida Doctor.
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475250_4992361574349_2007347877_oThis photo from Mr. Manning’s FB page, has not been confirmed as his daughter.

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On January 13, 2014, Patrick Manning wrote,” Okay, I need assistance. Many know my daughter was born with Down’s and today when her mother took her to a new doctor for her thyroid she was told “I don’t work on pets and I don’t talk with their owners”! When this was said she turned around and started to walked out when he told his receptionist “I’m not a veterinarian“.

he asks his FB friends, “what are my options?”

Manning said the doctor’s name is Sumesh Chandra and lists his office at Endocrine, Osteoporosis & Thyroid Care Center 3000 E Fletcher Ave Suite 350 Tampa, FL 33613.

He also publishes his phone number.

Patrick Manning FB Down Baby

According to the Florida State Medical Board, Sumesh Chandra, has no complaints against him:

Sumesh Chandra

Manning says he is overwhelmed by the support, “Thanks to all those who have responded and shared. I am actually over-whelmed at all the responses. I will definitely follow through with most of these suggestions. And no, I am not stupid enough to do anything physical at this point. Just glad I was not there or as mad as I was when told, I am sure I would not have thought straight. MANY friends of your have also contacted me. Over 1000 shares? Glad there are still good people that stand up for those who cant!” he posted on FB.

Father repents for not wanting his Down Syndrome child

Posted in Down Syndrome with tags , , , on October 2, 2013 by saynsumthn

Heath White, a pilot and FBI agent, said he had always sought perfection – and a Down syndrome child did not fit into that picture

But his wife refused to have an abortion and Paisley was born in 2007.

A few months later, he was making her laugh and he realized she was just like every other child – apart from that she was his

He wanted to show how proud he was of her so they began taking part in marathons and road races together.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2440151/Father-Heath-White-loved-Down-Syndrome-daughter-abortion-request.html#ixzz2gbGfnvae

‘My main concern was what people would think about me – what weakness inside me caused that,’ he said. ‘Learning you’re having a child with Downs is like experiencing a death, that’s what I felt like. Like I was getting a broken baby.’

He explained he did everything he could to try to force Jennifer to have an abortion and, while she said he was never abusive to her, she acknowledge he was not supportive.

Paisley and her dad article-2440151-186F1ACB00000578-576_634x376Paisley was born on March 16, 2007

[youtube=http://youtu.be/Q4foXehDmWs=