My story is about my son Matthew Tolbert. Matthew was born with Down syndrome and has over come many obstacles in his life. But he never stops amazing me. I am so very proud of the things that he has accopmplished in his life. When Matthew was 5 months old he had open heart surgery to repair a very large hole in his heart. Two times before his surgery he went into congestive heart failure and they had to remove several CC's of fluid from around his heart. After his heart surgery he had 8 mini strokes and become dependant on the ventilator. Every year up until the age of 12 he was in the hospital with pneumonia in October. Matthew has also had his ear drum reconstructed due to numerous times of having tubes but in his ear because of ear infections. He wears a hearing aid in one ear and is completely deaf in the ear that had recostructive eardrum surgery. But yet he keeps going. Matthew started the Early Intervention Program when he was 2 weeks old. There he received his physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. He continued through his school years with his therapies. In the year 2007 he didn't graduate but was able to walk in the graduation ceremony with his class. At the age of 21, Matthew received his High School Diploma. I couldn't be more proud of him. During his school Matthew as very involved with the Green House and took care of the plants, plus sold them to the community. This is his passion. Working with plants. He has a real green thumb. Matthew works with the school television program too everyday. He did the local weather that was broadcasted on television in our area. He holds a part-time job at Home Depot where he has been working for 5 years now. He's a lot attendant and is responsible for keeping the lot clean and moving the shopping carts around. He hopes this summer that they will move him into the Garden Center where his real passion is. Matthew also volunteers at our local Hospital as a transport assistant. He transports patients, machines and blood products around the hospital. This he does two times a week. Matthew is also very involved with our local community events for persons with Disabilities and Brain Damage. He's aware of his Down syndrome and will share with anyone that asks about it what it's like to live with Down syndrome. He's VERY popular in and around our town.