Our son Christopher was born 16 years ago. Two
days later we were told he had Down syndrome.
He was born 4 weeks early and was very tiny. After
the initial shock, we knew we had to do everything
possible to ensure Chris would become independent
and have a happy life. Doctors and therapists kept
telling us Chris would never walk or talk. They were wrong!
Christopher was attending a private school since kindergarten when we first heard about the proposal for the Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship. School Choice Ohio was instrumental in getting our family involved in the journey to make this scholarship a reality for many children to come. We attended rallies, dinners, delivered speeches and met with state representatives and others.
Finally, we had the chance to attend an event to celebrate The Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship being signed into law. Christopher even got to meet Governor Kasich. Unfortunately, we were unable to use the Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship for him right away as the school he attended did not become a scholarship provider. We were disappointed but never gave up.
Christopher graduated from 8th grade, and we applied for him to attend Saint Francis De Sales High School. We met with Mr. Garrick, the principal, and Mrs. Barber, the admission director for De Sales. They were both kind, great listeners, compassionate and eager to pursue ways to accommodate Christopher. We were delighted when they directed their conversations to Christopher, asking his opinions, likes and dislikes. To our surprise, as we inquired about the Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship, we learned De Sales was in the list of providers.
Finally, our journey and support from School Choice Ohio had paid off, and we would be able to apply for the Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship. Christopher is now attending St. Francis De Sales as a freshman. He plays in the band, altar serves at masses and helps manage the basketball teams. He is happy to be with some old friends and has also made many new friends.
Although Christopher is the first student with Down syndrome to attend De Sales, he is welcomed, treated with respect, and is working toward living a successful and independent life. We are grateful to School Choice Ohio, St. Francis De Sales, and all those responsible for making the Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship open the doors of success for many families.
Our mission continues, and by the way, Christopher can talk and walk. We must never give up on our hopes and dreams! We have a choice! Thank you to all.