Embracing Down Syndrome

In this blog, Rex Pickar shares with us the story behind the DSAWM Talent Show.

At 10 years old, I remember walking through the hospital with my Grandma Angel (that’s we call her in our family) to go meet my new baby brother. As we walked through one of those hallways where you can look through glass to see all the newborn babies, I started telling my Grandma how I thought all these newborns looked so “weird” to me. When she asked me to unpack my vague and silly comment, I couldn’t find any words to give her a reply; but as we kept walking, I saw a baby towards the end of the room and said “Well, see, that baby looks normal.” That baby I pointed at was my brother Kade. I always found that funny, because Kade was born with Down Syndrome and some people would say I had it backwards. Kade just turned 15 about a month ago.

Being a number of years older than Kade, at times, it felt almost like I was a 3rd parent as well as a big brother. I grew up taking him to speech therapy, swim lessons, and quite a few other activities each week. My point is that we’ve spent a lot of time together. What my family and I learned is that Kade certainly makes us all better people. He is constantly full of joy, laughter, bringing people together, and a love for ice cream. Our family has always felt lucky to have him.

A picture I took of Kade on a day spent in the city.

Fast-forward to Summer 2018. I’m volunteering with middle-schoolers with my church, and it turns out we get the chance to help kids with Down Syndrome learn how to ride a bike for the first time. Love it! We all had a lot of fun volunteering and I wanted to learn more about what organization was sponsoring the event. That’s where I first was introduced to Nate from the Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan (DSAWM) who explained more to me about their aim of supporting families with Down Syndrome members, creating advocacy, and building communities where Down Syndrome is embraced for those individuals to have meaningful lives. This is when I knew I had to get involved.

Nate and I grabbed coffee and he told me that events are one of the best ways for the DSAWM to engage with the local community. So, I had to ask him…what event has he wanted to do, but just hasn’t been able to pull off? Just like that, the idea of the Down Syndrome Talent Show was born and it was a perfect opportunity for Kapable to get involved, which is Kellogg’s Business Employee Resource Group focused on individuals and supporters with disabilities.

The rest is history. Kapable leadership was onboard to sponsor the event, so I and two other Kellogg co-workers started planning it all out with Nate from DSAWM (high-fives to those three!). It has been an awesome experience to see the people at Kellogg embrace and support this event through volunteering and attendance—it meant a lot to me and the others who worked on it. The people at Kellogg are very special.

The Talent Show just happened in mid-June with over 200 attendees, and it was a BLAST! Thanks to each person who helped and Kapable for all the support. It was an unforgettable night full of laughter, dancing, singing, and cheering that showcased many extremely talented individuals—the proof is in the pictures below. And Kade loved it too!

Talent Show Pictures


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