Not What We Thought, but Better than We Imagined
Reflecting back on the last 22 years, I am blessed to have experienced this wonderful adventure that has been my life. I was nine when my life changed – my little brother Christopher was born. Shortly after his birth, we were told he had Down syndrome. These words sounded foreign to me, but I didn’t care what it meant. All I knew was “my siblings and I had a baby brother, and our crew was complete.” We had dreams for Chris; my older brother finally had his sports buddy and I had a best friend for life.
Our family took an active approach in Chris’ education, encouraging inclusion and mainstream learning. We felt exposing him to a variety of learning styles and atmospheres would benefit him in the future. He began receiving speech and therapy services early on. In hindsight, I am thankful these services were presented to us. They inspired Chris’ learning and gave us an understanding of the extra patience, love and care we needed to show Chris, even though we see him as just our little brother.
It can easily be said that Chris and I created a special bond early on. Family friends have commented on the relationship we share, and the respect and love we have for each other. I have always viewed Chris as my brother who was going to be able to do everything and anything; while pushing him to his limits to see what he’s capable of. Having this perspective has been by far the best for him, for us and honestly for those around us and those we meet. We can easily educate and share with people the beauty of Chris by showing them how he is just another guy who wants to belong.
Thanks to Chris, I have found my passion and mission in life. I have started a nonprofit for young adults with disabilities called ABC Hopes: All Because Christopher Hopes. It’s our mission to get young adults out into the community working or performing community service. We have seen tremendous growth within the young men and women we serve, with their social skills skyrocketing and their concept of money and change enhancing tremendously.
Little did we know that our dreams would come true. We have our sports enthusiast with Chris’ love and boundless knowledge of the Angels, Ducks and Lakers. Chris is the glue that holds our family together; he constantly reminds us of the little things in life. For so long we thought we needed to teach him, but in actuality he has been the one teaching us. He is my partner in crime, my best friend, and has forever changed my life in the most beautiful way. I would not be on the path I am in life if it wasn’t for Chris being a part of my life.
Katie Moore, ABC Hopes, Inc.
ABC Hopes – Corona, CA
ABC Hopes’ mission is to empower individuals with Down Syndrome to contribute to society in a positive manner by giving them job opportunities that develop their social and educational skills.
Growing Up Special