Author: Jen Franklin Kearns, ds-connex team member
In celebration of Down Syndrome Awareness Month, we were honored to receive 144 entries for our 4th Annual Super Sibs campaign. These siblings ranged in age from less than a year old to adults, and we were once again reminded of the wonderful impact siblings have in the Down syndrome community.
We learned about fundraisers and awareness initiatives spearheaded by these sibs, we gushed over the sweet photos, and we smiled at the comments mentioning that as awesome as they may be, these siblings still engage in the typical bickering that occurs between many brothers and sisters.
While every single entry was remarkable and heartwarming, one particular submission truly stood out. Paula Hannibal from Houston sent us this about her sons, Sean and Zach. Through her entry, we are granted a glimpse into the brothers’ relationship. First, we learned about Sean’s feelings about his older brother:
“My name is Sean. I am 17 years old and I am a junior at Bellaire High School. My brother is Zachary Davis. He is 25 years old and he is a professional baseball player with the Chicago Cubs organization. My brother supports and encourages me the way most siblings do one another. He teases me. He plays games with me. He taught me how to use a razor and how to tie my shoes. He wrestles with me. He’s usually patient with me. He fights with me and corrects me when I’m wrong. He reads to me, sings and dances with me. He taught me how to play video games and how to use new apps on my I-phone. He calls me long-distance and always answers when I call him. He asks about school and about my grades. He taught me geography and all about football and baseball. He talks to me and lets me talk to him (about anything). He lets me hang out with him and his friends and spends time with me. He loves me just the way I am.”
Next, we heard from Zach on what it’s like to have a sibling with Down syndrome:
“It’s everything. There are amazing times and there are tough times, just like in every other relationship. The highs and lows will be specific to your situation. Sean and I love to watch sports or Family Feud together. We love messing with each other in the grocery store until Mom gets annoyed and tells us to stop. For me, it’s a typical brother-brother relationship. It’s all I know.”
Zach also shared what he would say to someone whose sibling has Down syndrome:
“After hearing about what Down syndrome is or what effects it can have on someone, you may walk away feeling like everything about it is negative. I’m here to tell you that there is absolutely a purpose that is put on your brother or sister’s life. They will undeniably make an impact on others; it may just be done a little differently than what you’ve seen before. Isn’t that how God works?! This can be an emotional experience and your feelings are valid; just know that you are not alone in this. There are people very similar to you that are walking the same walk. Feel free to reach out and talk about how you’re feeling. Your brother/sister will need your help but don’t put limitations on him/her as he/she will grow just like we do.”