Growing up in rural Western Colorado, I was surrounded by beautiful mountains, wonderful nature, and amazing neighbors, four of whom were boys with Down syndrome. Two of those boys were brothers and two were members of other families. Each of those boys left such an impression on me that I never will forget them or their incredible outlook on life. These four boys are all men now, the two brothers live together in their own apartment and hold jobs. Another man lives with and helps his aging mother, The fourth boy and his family moved and we lost contact. All of these boys showed me that people living with Down syndrome have so much to contribute and are certainly more like those of us considered typical than they are different.
Flagler College is located in St. Augustine, Florida and has developed several programs in Tallahassee. Through grants, I have been fortunate enough to return to school and am pursuing a double major in Elementary Education and Exceptional Student Education. I hope to teach in an inclusion classroom and it is from my early exposure to four boys with Down syndrome that I believe all children should be participant in a typical classroom experience. Children have the wonderful ability to appreciate life in every form and by exposing students at a young age to diversity, they all will gain so much more schema for life.
2014 will be my fourth running of the Boston marathon and my third time running for the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress Team. I have qualified every time and registered through my qualification. The registration for the 2011 Boston historically filled in less than 8 hours. Many qualified runners complained about the charity runners, but an amazing charity runner organizer, Susan Hurley defended the charity runners so eloquently, I could not resist joining her in support of charity runners. It is my hope that more qualified runners will raise funds for a charity, because it makes running that much more meaningful. Here is to charity runners, "YOU ARE OVERQUALIFIED, BECAUSE YOU RUN FOR CHARITY!" ~S.H.