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How My Brother Became an Inspiration to His Entire High School

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Sometimes it takes kids like the ones who attend Huron High to restore a little bit of faith in the world. My brother, now attending high school, almost to the final stretch as a senior, has been part of a perfect example of this faith in humanity.

Growing up, you get to observe the way children interact with others who come across as “different.” I for one have experienced the taunting and teasing that comes with this disability. And when I say “disability,” what I really mean is “blessing.” Because that’s exactly what my brother with Down syndrome is: a blessing.

Max is an outgoing, lovable, companionable kid who grew up without judgment or bias toward anyone. His innocent mind made him all the more willing to approach anyone and everyone with a friendly gesture (usually by saying howdy).

Some children may have taken his extrovert personality the wrong way at times. Peers would recognize his physical differences and stare as if they were trying to figure out what was wrong. Some would take advantage of his innocence and tease him because they knew he would never tease back. The truth is, nothing was wrong with him and his heart of gold simply wasn’t capable of being rude to another peer.

Since then, Max and the children he grew up with have come a long way. The friends he has made over the years have only lifted him higher and encouraged him to be the best he can be. Max is a manager of the high school football team, jersey and all. The team has been incredible with making him feel at home and that he is of significant importance to the team as a whole.

He is also a manager of the middle school basketball team. Although these players are years younger than him, they know him just as well as those of his own age and make him feel like an essential part of the team.

Max competes in Winter Special Olympics skiing and has received gold medals over the past three years.

There is no way he would have reached his goal of this many medals if his best friends and classmates weren’t right there cheering on the sidelines each year.

Max was also nominated and chosen to be the Grand Marshal of our town’s local parade this past summer. Not only did his peers think this was a good idea, but the entire town.

Did I mention he is going to be a senior in high school? The only senior with Down syndrome to ever graduate from Huron High. There is no doubt in my mind he wouldn’t be where he is right now if his peers weren’t always right behind him pushing him to be the best he can be.

All of these people have made my brother feel so incredibly special through everyday actions. The way Max’s classmates have come together to support him has me at a loss for words.

I watch him interact in a more social way than he ever has before with his friends, and I cannot describe how grateful I am that he found such loyal people.

I cannot wait to see where life takes him and I cannot thank his classmates enough for helping him get to where he is now. Max has become a leader, an inspiration, and a friend to all, thanks to his astounding peers.

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Originally published: April 3, 2015
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