Skip to comments.Down Syndrome Doesn't Stop Eagle Scout
Posted on 09/16/2009 5:24:18 PM PDT by kathsua
Lucas Wondra has achieved something only about 4 % of those who enter scouting achieve. He has achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.
His achievement is particularly significant because the 16-year-old Hutchinson (Kansas) High School student has the genetic disorder Down Syndrome. Lucas is one of many who are demonstrating that individuals with Down Syndrome can be productive members of society. Maybe they are not capable of performing brain surgery or becoming professional athletes, but then neither are the vast majority of the rest of us.
Individuals with Down Syndrome have an extra copy of chromosome 21 , a condition called trisomy 21, which can cause physical and mental disabilities because having three copies of some genes interferes with the normal operation of cells and development. Down Syndrome children may not be geniuses, but many of them are able to attend classes with other students instead of being limited to special education classes as was once the case.
The cause of the extra copy of the chromosome is unknown, but it is known that an extra copy may be received from one of the parents or the extra chromosome may appear during the embryonic stage of development resulting in some cells with the extra copy and some with only two copies of chromosome 21. The possibility of an extra chromosome developing in embryonic cells is a major reason why embryonic cells may be unsafe to use in treating human disorders
Lucas isn't the first Scout with Down Syndrome to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. For example, Adam Townsend of Mesquite, Texas, became an Eagle Scout on June1, 2009. A. J. Trueblood of Lakeland, Florida, became an Eagle Scout in August, 2006. Clayton "Trey" Henderson of Ridgeview High School in Orange Park, Florida, became an Eagle Scout in April, 2006.
Down Syndrome scouts have to meet the same requirements as other Eagle Scouts if they are physically able to do so. A. J. Trueblood didn't even mention that he had Down Syndrome on his application.
Lucas is unable to swim so he substituted a 20 mile hike. He also completed five 10 mile hikes. I don't know if I even hiked 20 miles when I took basic training in the army, although it sometimes felt like 20 miles.
Lucas is physically unable to speak but can communicate using sign language and a PDA with voice software. He used the PDA to communicate with a congregation while serving as a chaplain's aide including offering a thought for the day and leading in the Lord's Prayer.
Many of those with Down Syndrome never had the opportunity for achievement that these Eagle Scouts had because their mothers listened to ignorant, prejudiced doctors and others who persuaded them to have abortions. Many share the prejudiced (or is it bigoted) view of Nicholas Provenzo that "a person afflicted with Down syndrome is only capable of being marginally productive (if at all) and requires constant care and supervision."
Provenzo obviously doesn't understand what those with Down Syndrome can do. I wonder how many of those who think Down Syndrome individuals cannot do anything had the drive to become Eagle Scouts.
Perhaps the lamest argument for aborting Down Syndrome babies has been suggested to students on more than one occasion by University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Professor Albert K. Harris. "In my opinion, the moral thing for older mothers to do is to have amniocentesis, as soon during pregnancy as is safe for the fetus, test whether placental cells have a third chromosome #21, and abort the fetus if it does. The brain is the last organ to become functional."
"I know somebody who had a child like this, and it ruined their life," he said.
Down Syndrome babies do require more time and effort than some other babies, but that doesn't mean they should not have the opportunity to be born and live.
Active "normal" children may actually require more supervision than Down Syndrome children because they may be physically able to get into dangerous situations faster than Down Syndrome children.
Potential parents who are concerned that a child with Down Syndrome might require more of their time should reconsider the decision to become parents. Down Syndrome isn't the worst thing that can happen to a child.
A child could be afflicted with a fatal form of cancer or Muscular Dystrophy. A child might be severely injured in an accident or abducted.
A child might require greater effort from parents because of hyperactivity or autism. A "normal" child may decide to get involved with drugs or gangs.
These and many other problems that can occur with children can adversely affect families, but the problem isn't with the children. Major illness of the death of a child from any cause potentially can destroy a family if parents start playing a blame game. The problem in these situations is with parents who cannot accept adversity.
Sue Thomas was born in May, 1950, and was a normal child until she suddenly lost her hearing at 18 months. The "experts" told her parents that she would never amount to anything and should be institutionalized. Her parents ignored the advice and made sure that she had the opportunity for as normal a life as possible including attending school with children who could hear.
At the age of 7 she became the youngest Ohio Champion free style skater in history. In 1979, she became part of an elite FBI surveillance team. In 2002 a tv series Sue Thomas: F.B. Eye debuted based on her career, although many of the episodes dealt with the type cases facing the FBI at the time of the series rather than cases from the 80's. The Gospel Music Channel is bringing that series back on September 14.
Some people try to define others by what they cannot do instead of what they can do. Lucas Wondra, Adam Townsend, A.J. Trueblood and Clayton Henderson have done something I couldn't have done when I was their age. They have become Eagle Scouts.
I was a Cub Scout, but my family moved to another town when I was in the 6th grade and I never became a Boy Scout. Even if I had participated, I doubt that I could have fulfilled the requirements for an Eagle Scout because I was the stereotypical "98 pound weakling" in high school.
I cannot play a musical instrument like Sarah Itoh who has Down Syndrome and who was playing the clarinet by the time she was11 years old. She is an accomplished public speaker who particularly enjoys telling audiences how she enjoys Special Olympics. At her age I had enough trouble just repeating lines in a church Christmas play.
We all have different abilities and disabilities. We can do some things that others cannot do and they can do some things that we cannot do.
Sue Thomas responded to her loss of hearing by learning to read lips. That skill got her a job as an FBI agent because she could what other FBI agents could not do. She could tell what a suspect under visual surveillance was saying without the need to plant a microphone near him.
We don't know the full potential of what individuals with Down Syndrome can do because for many years people just labeled them "retarded" and assumed they couldn't do anything. Maybe none of the Eagle Scouts mentioned will become an astronaut like Eagle Scout Neil Armstrong or a movie director like Eagle Scout Steven Spielberg. However, drama student and cheerleader Clayton Henderson might become a successful actor like Joseph "Chris" Burke who has Down Syndrome and was a star of the successful tv series "Life Goes On.."
How many of us could star in a tv series?
Some people claim that Down Syndrome children cost society because of government programs that have assisted them. I doubt seriously all Down Syndrome individuals together have cost society nearly as much as Bernie Madoff.
He is now 58 years old and is probably the happiest guy I know...
keep Dr. Emanuel away from him
Great post! My son Joseph has DS and has greatly enriched the of eveyone he has met.This “quality of life” argument is ugnorant and evil.
From a mom of two Eagle Scouts.
I have a cousin who suffered a birth problem and is 42 now. He still believes in Santa. Imagine the magic.
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