The leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome.

National Down Syndrome Society
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New York New York 10017
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An Angel in Disguise
An Angel in Disguise

On January 1, 1980, a New Year's baby and the first to arrive in the area, Andy was born two months premature, weighing in as a two pounder, and barely alive. He had many complications and the chances of his survival were slim. I was only sixteen at the time, but I remember believing that my baby would survive and give our world a special gift. Little did I know, six months later, the doctor's would discover that he had actually been born with Down syndrome. No matter to me, we had a bond that no diagnosis could break. The first three years were difficult for Andy's health and development as he was hospitalized numerous times with various maladies; collapsed lung, heart surgery, pneumonia, and a broken arm. But he overcame the challenges and grew into a preschooler as I finished high school. Andy went through the special education program in our public school system and he received tremendous attention, instruction, and hope for the future. Our small community always surrounded our family with acceptance and support. Not in a pitiful sort of way, but with fun-loving friends and neighbors who tended to keep a close eye on the little boy with special needs, and we felt encouraged. I have come to realize that my son was meant to give our world many gifts. Like the time he rode his tricycle around the block, stopping to pledge allegiance to the neighbor's flag. That couple was changed by witnessing Andy's act of respect. Or the Halloween parties we dress-up for annually where every party-goer is surely influenced by the mass group of costumed creatures where no prejudice is possible because no one knows who is disabled and who is not; the world we all dream for! Andy's sister, little brother, and other relatives have been privileged to witness the difficulties life can present Andy, and the joy he keeps finding in the midst of the rubble, as he lives a life free of drinking, drugs, and typical worries that take hold of most of us. For me, Andy has given to me the greatest gift possible. A changed life. Many years ago when I was going through a tough time, it was a Sunday morning and I decided to give church another try. As I stood asking God if He was real, Andy tugged at me to get my attention. I was bothered at first and being the good mother I am, I ignored him! He persisted! Finally I turned and was shocked to find that Andy had brought from home the "J" encyclopedia and he was pointing to a picture of Jesus knocking at a door. I wondered, "How was this possible? So many books to choose from and so many pages? How could it be?" A miracle I concluded. A gift, and Andy was the angel in disguise.

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Jodi Erger, United States, IA
10/16/2014 10:15:48 PM
You are so lucky to have Andy in your life Suzanne, and Andy is so lucky to have you!

Harlene Stewart, United States, IA
10/16/2014 9:39:49 PM
What a wonderful story! Suzanne, you and your family are very special people.

Shelly Huffer, United States, IA
10/16/2014 9:27:12 PM
We are blessed to have had the opportunity to know Andy and his family for many years. Andy has really shown us what unconditional love is. Suzanne has given Andy her whole heart as a mom and made him push to his potential when things were not expected to happen for him. She always pulls out the best in Andy. Their whole family supports Andy with love and encouragement. Suzanne got the best gift from God but she unwrapped it and shared it with us....Andy truly is a unexpected angel to many. We love them very much!

Debbie Feight, United States, IA
10/16/2014 4:34:31 PM
Andy has always been an important part of Suzanne's life! She has always given him love and respect and has been an inspiration to many people.

Monica, United States, IA
10/16/2014 9:02:31 AM
I have the privilege of knowing both Andy, Suzanne and their family - they all are amazing people! My life has been touched because of each of them and what they have to offer the world!

Jennifer Archibald, United States, IA
10/16/2014 8:24:28 AM
A touching story of a beautiful life.

Le Ann, United States, IA
5/31/2011 11:34:09 AM
PTL.. Way to go Suzanne!

kim wauters, United States, IA
5/9/2011 4:02:59 PM
My Husband Wayne and I were so honored to have been a small part of Andys life as his babysitter ! Our children also learned many things from being his friend . He is a true Angel from God !!

Charlotte Holst, United States, IA
5/9/2011 3:42:55 PM
I am Suzanne's mother, and I must say her Dad and I are very proud of Suzanne, her care, understanding and patience of Andy is great. Andy can be a very funny grandson, he is very special MAN in our hearts

Cal Hemrich, United States, MN
5/9/2011 1:02:19 PM
Wow, what a story, Suzanne! Praise God for the life of Andy Becker!

Diana Buscher, United States, IA
5/8/2011 7:31:29 PM
I am privileged to be Andy's Aunt. I grew up babysitting him and learning that no matter the disability he was just like any other child. As a small boy his hugs and kisses were bountiful and his energy was endless! My sister has done a fantastic job

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