Jonathan is happy to be named a Buddy Walk Ambassador this year by Down Syndrome Network AZ.
Jonathan’s, mom Jill remembers discovering that Jon had Down syndrome when she was in recovery from his birth in 2002. She had not learned yet about the wonderful life change Jonathan would bring to her family. She did not grow up knowing anyone with a Down syndrome. Down syndrome was a term she had learned only in grade school science class. Back then she was given information (which she learned are myths), such as there was little hope for people with Down syndrome and that they did not live in their community. When Jon was born, Jill wondered how she would be able to raise and nurture someone with Down syndrome, and if anyone would care about Jonathan. The answer to those questions was, “YES!” Jill and her whole family came to know many of caring people through DSNetwork.
When Jonathan was younger, Jill and her husband Pete learned teaching techniques through the workshops offered by DSNetwork. Those workshops helped Jill and Pete to advocate for Jonathan’s full inclusion in public school. In the tween and teen years, Jonathan was a regular participant in the monthly Tweens & Teens Up program offered by DSNetwork both in the West Valley and now online. He especially enjoys playing game, eating pizza, and sharing jokes with the other teens. Jon deeply cares about his community as much as they care about him. He is full of compassion and loves performing as a trombonist in band and making people laugh. Jon’s favorite part of the Buddy Walk these last few years has been cheering during the ASU Homecoming Parade, raising awareness amongst the spectators that having Down syndrome is worth celebrating.
The Buddy Walk may look a little different this year as Jonathan turns 18-years old, but he is thrilled to be named a Buddy Walk Ambassador for DSNetwork and can’t wait to get involved soon with the Xcell adult program. Jill says, “DSNetwork has truly been with us every step of the way.“