Last fall, Evan, 6, was getting ready to start kindergarten — and his parents, Mitch and Julie, were a little worried. Evan was suddenly “the new kid” in a new school, and they weren’t at all sure how things would go.
But it just took one back-to-school party to set their minds at ease. “Within an hour, 30 or 40 kids ran up to him,” says Julie. “He has a magnetic personality.”
Being around his friends energizes Evan, says Julie — and so does a good song. “Sometimes when we’re sitting at home he’ll ask for music and say ‘Mommy, come on, let’s dance.’”
Evan also loves going to the zoo and reading (especially about animals), and recently discovered a new favorite subject: math. “Some of it is challenging for him,” Julie says, “but one of his favorite games on his iPad is a math game.”
Seeing Evan take on new adventures is exciting and inspiring for his parents. “A lot of people underestimate the capabilities of individuals with Down syndrome,” says Julie. “But we look at Evan and see the possibility of a career, of college, of experiences much like any other typical person would have.”
For Evan and his family, the CHOP Buddy Walk is a chance to celebrate those possibilities — and the team at CHOP that has been by their side since the beginning. This year, Evan is a Patient Champion for the Buddy Walk, the single largest fundraiser to support research and care for children and adults with trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
“When we first came to the Trisomy 21 Program, we felt we had found a place that understood Evan and understood our needs,” Julie says. “The team shares information and approaches and strategies to help us get through things that other parents before us have gotten through. And when we come to the CHOP Buddy Walk, we are celebrating and thanking them for all they’ve done to help us move forward.”