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Wednesday, December 1, 2010


There's that little game that people play. If you could go back in time in your life and change something, what would you do differently?

For years, my answer was always "Nothing." Every choice I have made in my life - even the bad choices - have taught me something. Everything I've done, good or bad, has shaped who I am.

But I started to realize in the last few years that there is just one thing I would change if I could.


I would have been friends with Danny.

When I was growing up, there was a family who lived just down the street from us. They had 2 kids - a son who was a year or two older than me, and a daughter who was a year younger. Danny was the son, and he had Down Syndrome.

Sometimes, Danny would go for walks around the neighborhood and would find me playing in our yard. He wouldn't really talk to me, but he would try to play with me. I was afraid of him because he was different and would go in the house. Leaving him outside alone.

That breaks my heart now.

I never gave him a chance. It wasn't until we were in high school that I realized how amazing he was.

Danny is a trouper. He is always happy, always smiling. He wants to be friends with the whole world! He told me once that he was going to be an actor, and I had no doubt that he would be great at it. I swear, he could do anything he sets his mind to. I'm so happy to know that even though the life span for someone with Down Syndrome is fairly short, Danny is still spreading his wonderful spirit to the people he meets. He's in his mid 30's now, and I hope he sticks around for a long, long time.

I haven't had a lot of opportunity to spend with him since high school. I moved back to our old neighborhood, but he was gone for a long time. I was happy to see him riding in his dad's car a few weeks before we moved away.

So that's my one big regret in life. I should have been Danny's friend. I should have learned at a really young age how amazing he is.

I was thinking about him again today. There is a group of kids with Down Syndrome who work at the gas station near my house. Thanks to Danny, I have an immediate love for anyone who has that magic extra chromosome. I make a point to talk to those wonderful kids when I see them, and I hope I'll have a chance to get to know them individually as time goes on. (Kelle Hampton - who's beautiful baby girl is in the picture I posted above - can teach you a thing or two about how special Down Syndrome children are. If you're not already a fan of her blog, I highly recommend it!)

So to Danny - I'm so sorry I didn't give you a chance when we were kids, but know that I love you and I'm a better person for having known you!


Joan said...

Beautiful. I remember Danny well and have thought often of that family. Danny was amazing in high school.
Nice post.