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

National Down Syndrome Society
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My Hero
My Hero

Today, January 8, is my brother’s birthday. His name is Jonathan Ordoñez. 20+ years ago, when I was seven years old, I took it upon myself to read in the encyclopedia about Down syndrome and learn more about my brother. I read that there was no cure and that my brother would always be disabled. I read that he wouldn't exceed the mental age of a seven-year-old child. I read that my brother would not live past 20-25 years old.

Today he turns 29, and he is healthy and strong. Even though he can't always explain himself, I know he's smart. He constantly surprises me with his abilities. He is definitely smarter than I was that day years ago when I read about Down syndrome. That day, I cried because I realized he would never be normal, I didn't understand why my brother had to be different and disabled, or as the encyclopedia put it, "abnormal" and "mentally retarded." I was ashamed. I was scared. I thought he was going to die and never live a full, happy life. I wanted more for him. I cried because I didn't know then what I know now.

My brother doesn't have to be normal. He is happy, healthy, and loved. He is perfect the way he is. I don't need to be ashamed nor afraid. He is and will always be a blessing, an inspiration, my motivation, and the best brother I could ever have. And I pray every day that I can be the best brother that I can be for him. He has gone through so much in his life. He had a surgery on his spinal cord when he was around eight years old and had to wear a halo for a year. He became depressed and sad when I moved away from home to go to college. This spurred our mother into opening up a home care business for the developmentally disabled because she felt my brother needed companionship. When I came back from college, I joined in running this business, and came back to appreciate my time with my brother even more.

To go home, even on the worst of days, and see him look up at me with the biggest smile, his slanted eyes wide open, full of pride, looking at me like I’m a hero, asking me for a simple hug. I hug him and say to him, "I..." and he finishes my sentence by replying "love, you, Niko." There's nothing more inspiring, nothing better to make any day feel great.

Little does he know that he's the hero, and I'm just the normal one. I’ve written a book about my special relationship with my brother and the effects this relationship has had on me. It is important to me to share just how much having him in my life has changed me and helped me see the world differently. I hope that others can one day read what I’ve written, and understand, even just a little bit, the love we have for each other and the blessing he has been to me and my family.

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Comments (1,000 character limit)

Don Tolliver Jr, United States, TN
3/11/2013 11:17:11 AM
A touching and honest story like this could only be expressed through the heart and mind of a caring and close person to someone with Downs. My 4 yr old daughter has Downs and she is a bright light in our lives that can shine through any darkness and we love her like you love your brother! God loves you both!!

Kari Guidry, United States, NC
2/26/2013 3:13:47 PM
Wonderful story! It really touched me.

Crystal Organ, United States, OH
2/26/2013 2:17:59 PM
What a wonderful story!!

Deborah Baker, Canada,
2/26/2013 2:04:53 PM
What a wonderful story of love and friendship and family. Thank you so much for sharing your life with us.

Ning L. Damasco, Philippines,
2/12/2013 4:43:00 AM
Love this story so much and wished to God that all special children be treated this way. I just feel that they're the most special person in the world who needs the best kind of love and care everyone can give. Keep up the good work Nick and May The Lord God Bless You and Jonathan Always!

Jaime P Ancheta, United States, CA
2/6/2013 1:14:14 PM
A tear jerker of a story and a feel good one at the same time.

faye balares, Philippines,
2/5/2013 7:58:20 PM
a very heart warming story. maybe because i can completely relate. on how you tried to know whats going on with your brother. on being happy for seeing him happy in your darkest days. i love my brother too. so much. :) by the way my brother is autictic and im proud of him and who he is :)

Michelle Lacoss, Virgin Islands, U.S.,
2/4/2013 8:07:02 AM
This story brought tears to my eyes as I think of my son Jordan and his brothers. Keep on loving!

Rod Embry, United States, KY
2/2/2013 8:45:37 PM
Ditto for my son of 23. He is my inspiration every day!

Rod Embry, United States, KY
2/2/2013 8:43:43 PM
Ditto for my son of 23. An inspiration every day!

patricia marrone, United States, NY
2/1/2013 11:26:09 PM
your story is beautiful.The tears are still running down my cheeks.You are good brother to him & he to you!I hope other brothers/sisters will love as much as you two do.My Rylee is 17 months old also with down sydrone. Her smile would raise up 100 sinking ships!!!! She has a new baby brother Liam 6 month old.I hope with the guidance from mom & dad & gram ( me ) & grandpa he will love & help his sister.THank you for a great and inspiring story.Both OF you keep up the good work.

Christina Cole, United States, MN
1/31/2013 12:20:57 PM
Nick, I hope and believe that our oldest son with think that of his little brother, who also has Down Syndrome some day!!! Congratulations for knowing how wonderful your brother is and being able to appreciate how GREAT it is to love a person that has a heart of gold and Down Syndrome. It's a special gift, I believe to have a person with Down Syndrome in our lives, some look at differently, but I would NEVER want it any other way!! Our little boy, Carter, is only three and already could light up a room! I think your brother is lucky too!!!

Rebecca Stebbings, United Kingdom,
1/29/2013 9:18:10 PM
What an inspiration you both are... I would love to read your book! :) x

Judith Centenera, Australia,
1/23/2013 2:04:04 AM
What a touching story!!!

Arnulfo Aguirre, Canada,
1/20/2013 8:06:46 PM
Very nice story..

Lorena R. Aguirre, United States, KS
1/18/2013 4:15:14 AM
Nik, you have a big heart, a very big heart. we are always here for you. hugs and kisses to both Jon and you.

analie nunag, Philippines,
1/16/2013 1:48:23 AM
congratulations.. i believe that most readers love it..this is true that they are most wonderful person in this world.. they are loving, respectfull, sensitive to the need of normal person..very religious and very easy to teach proud also of my son who is down syndrome youngest child in our family.. thank u for giving more time for your brother as well as other who is down gives more inspiration to those brother or sister like you.... again thank you and more power..God Bless us all..

ellen pereira, United States, CA
1/16/2013 1:09:20 AM
NICK, I'm proud of you both, this is what you called unconditional love, your brother & people like him are an INSPIRATION & not a failure of a family. God gave them special abilities that make them more extra ordinary. i have a nephew who is now 5 years old though he is delayed in his speech but love to dance & sing, he loves action movies & retain everything in his mind. God Bless them.

Katie Stubblefield, United States, CA
1/15/2013 6:30:18 PM

Ela Aguirre, United States, KS
1/15/2013 1:31:37 PM
We love him so much!

Christopher Neil Aguirre, Philippines,
1/14/2013 7:10:18 PM
What more can I say? We may be living miles apart and with different time zone. But no matter how distant it is, truly, Jonathan is loved. And I'm proud of having you and Jonathan as my cousins. I love you guys! God Bless you, Jonathan, Tita Lu and Tito Alex

Josie brown, United States, CA
1/14/2013 4:26:28 PM
I love your made me cry. He'll be in my prayer everyday.....luv u guys!!

nenen de los santos, United States, CA
1/14/2013 3:48:54 PM
Niko your story gave me goose bumps and tears such a lovely story you have about you r brother...more power to you niko..i feel lucky that i know jonathan personally...he is such a good and intellegent kid...God bless to you and your family.

Mae Uy, Philippines,
1/14/2013 2:09:49 PM
Having a son with Autism was traumatic that I decided not to have another baby. Hearing your story gives me encouragement that having a brother or a sister is the greatest gift that I could give to my Nathan. Thank you Niko and God Bless you and your family.

TJ Serrano, United States, CA
1/14/2013 1:15:34 PM
Such a heartwarming, true-to-life story about unconditional love between siblings and family. It touched and warmed my heart!

Fe Monzon, United States, CA
1/14/2013 12:35:13 PM
I consider Jonathan as family and have watch him grow up to be a smart young man. He warms up my heart everytime I see him. I think he knows that he has a good sense of humor and it makes him happy when we laugh at it. He is blessed to have a good brother like Niko and parents who adore him.

Marc Coloma, United States, CA
1/13/2013 7:19:17 PM
very inspirational man!

Jess Bedolla, United States, CA
1/13/2013 5:06:53 PM
No comments.

George Simon , United States, PA
1/12/2013 7:18:17 PM
This was absolutely beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. I am a father of a 2 year old little girl named raylynn hope who has a ACC a rare disorder of the brain. Basically she is missing her corpus collosium ( the middle of the brain that connects the 2 hemispheres ) but the doctors wanted us to abort and have told us time and time again that she is going to be different and not able to do the things her brothers and sisters do. But she is the lucky one cause she has a older brother that is similar to you. He is just 14 but he loves her so much and she adores him as well. She is starting to talk now and communicate better and we would love to read your story. And you are a hero to your brother as he is to you. God bless you and your brother.

Lorraine Narvaez, United States, CA
1/12/2013 2:48:14 PM
Hi Niko, Congratulations Niko , You are a Hero yourself , very inspirational and touching , made me cry . We love you!!!! T Lino & T Yen

Jesse Rodarte, United States, CA
1/12/2013 2:22:44 PM
Got this link from UFC ring girl Arianny Celeste. I found it very inspirational. I wish you and your family the best. Happy birthday Jonathan.

Robin Skaggs, United States, AZ
1/10/2013 6:33:55 PM

Karen Manio, United States, CA
1/10/2013 11:50:15 AM
Such an inspirational story, Nick!

Rose Balleras, United States, CA
1/9/2013 12:01:50 PM
Awesome story.....awesome family!

Raquel Lizarraga, United States, CA
1/9/2013 12:01:19 PM
Inspiring story! I'd love to read your book.

Mary Lemrise, United States, CA
1/9/2013 11:49:24 AM
God Bless your family.

caridad, United States, CA
1/9/2013 2:45:43 AM
Happy Birthday

Mariciel Goldstein, United States, NY
1/8/2013 11:04:32 PM
Happy Birthday Tatan. Love, the Goldstein family

Patricia Russell, United States, CA
1/8/2013 7:05:40 PM
This story is so well written and really makes one appreciate the gift of life even if it isn't perfect. It says alot about the writer to be able to value the treasured relationship of his brother.

Allison Vicencio, United States, CA
1/8/2013 6:26:38 PM
Happy birthday, Jonathan!

Josh Espinosa, United States, CA
1/8/2013 6:20:31 PM
Lovely story.

Chiell Ann Pereira, United States, CA
1/8/2013 2:54:15 PM
Happy Birthday, Kuya! i love you, and Niko, too!

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