The National Advocate for People with Down Syndrome Since 1979

National Down Syndrome Society
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Mr. 'Right On It'
Mr. 'Right On It'

Self-Advocate Greg Rogers has been called "Mr. Right On It" because of his perceptive attention and focused presence to what needs to happen and inspiring capacity to energize himself to respond. This led him to be instrumental in helping a young African American boy who was thrashing around in water over his head to keep from drowning. The young teenager was screaming and thrashing. Greg waved his arms trying unsuccessfully to get the lifeguards' attention. Greg swam over to the boy who threw himself on Greg, pushing him under. Greg came back up and laid back. The young man lay across his chest, hands on Greg's shoulders, and Greg back-stroked to shore. When Greg's toes touched sand, another young man swam up, helping the boy get to the beach. His family rushed up. It turned out he had severe leg cramps in both calves and couldn't hold himself above water. 
On another occasion Greg was in a Special Olympics track meet, having promised his dog Zambi he would bring her a gold medal. The time for his meet drew close. He became anxious he would fail: his legs were weak and aching, he "didn't feel that great." It was hot. He wasn't in great shape and there had been no training. Then he disappeared, presumably to warm up or go to the bathroom. He came back, plopping down somewhat out-of-breath. When asked where he'd been, he dismissed it saying "it was nothing important Mom." Later I received an email letting me know that a young man with Down syndrome had run up when he saw her daughter "stuck" part way through her meet. An aide was with her on one side. He helped her on the other side and cheered her on to complete her meet, to her great joy and excitement. It was her first ever event "Was he wearing a blue shirt?" Yes, it was Greg (later confirmed by him). Too anxious to get in the starting-line for his own event, his "dash-off-to-rescue" mobilized some greater daring do, and off he went to compete for the medal for his beloved dog. 
Large-scale acts highlight smaller practices that are simply natural to Greg: crossing the street to tuck in someone's dangling gas-cap, quietly emptying his program's trashcans when they're overflowing and everyone's busy, snowblowing his driveway at 11 P.M. to make it navigable for a worker's car, buying flowers for a distressed worker, writing a thank you to a local reporter after hearing he had been seen on TV, concern for of a fellow-participant's safety leading him to recommend changes in approach to being out in traffic. In an age when there is much "passing on by" and preoccupied absent mindedness, Greg's gift for attentiveness, rooted in an orientation of deep caring, and his capacity for engaged and invested response has been an inspiration for me, encouraging more of the same in my own life.




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