Shon and Brittany Christy have four beautiful children. Beckett, their youngest, was born with Down syndrome. When the Christy family got the diagnosis, they went online to learn more. “All we found were negative resources, and all we heard was what he’s not going to do,” Shon remembered. “But the reality was just the opposite.”
This experience prompted Shon and Brittany to become teachers, community advocates, and resources to other parents. They wanted to be a voice for Down syndrome awareness, so that other families wouldn’t have to have a negative experience upon learning that their child may have special needs. They reached out to Summit DD to take advantage of Early Intervention services for Beckett when he was a baby, and they connected with other community resources to create a network of support, all of which has had a positive impact on their family.
“Beckett is the reason I do what I’m doing,” Shon stated. He shared that he begins each business presentation with a slide of his son and his story. Beckett, now age three, was his inspiration to start his own company. “My work has allowed me to be a megaphone for Down syndrome awareness.”
Brittany, Beckett’s mom, also helps to educate others about children with special needs. She recently took Beckett into her oldest daughter’s class during Disability Awareness Week. She talked to the students about Down syndrome and introduced them to Beckett. “He lit up the room,” she said. “He was giving high-fives to the whole third grade class.”
Additionally, Shon and Brittany have become advocates in the community. They have gotten involved in organizations such as The Upside of Downs, Dads Appreciating Down Syndrome (DADS), The Akron Rotary, Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action, and Stand Up for Downs to name a few. Their hope is to raise awareness and help create more inclusive communities for all children with developmental disabilities. “We are appreciative of the parents who paved the way 15-20 years ago,” Shon said gratefully. Their involvement in these organizations is a way to continue the progress.
The Christy family is part of the next generation of advocates. “Beckett will go to college and get a job in the community,” Brittany stated simply. “We expect the same things from him that we expect from his sisters. The only person who will set limits for Beckett is Beckett.” Both parents believe that each person has his own path, and that they will support whatever his dreams may be one day.
Finally, Shon and Brittany want to be resources for other parents. Brittany explained that she tries to make herself available to new parents. “I know what I needed to hear when I first heard the words Down syndrome was, ‘It’s OK.’ I wanted to know that what I was feeling was OK.” She continued, “Then the day Becket was born, I looked at him. He was my baby, and he was perfect.”
Shon had some good advice for families. “Contact local agencies like Summit DD. They can help connect you to resources.” Shon added, “Families should also get plugged in with another parent of a child with Down syndrome. No one can understand your concerns better than another parent.”
The Christy family is on a mission. Together, as a family, they are teaching about and advocating for people with disabilities. “I’ll never be able to give as much to Beckett as he’s given me,” Shon reflected. They’ve learned that inspiration can come from even the youngest among us, because greatness has no age.