Mother of Son with Down Syndrome Finds a Shoulder to Lean On

Johannes standing next to a metal sign of the Special Olympics with his arms up in celebration and smiling.

24 years ago, Helen Cheong struggled to accept the news that her son Johannes was going to be born with Down Syndrome.

“I spent a good month sitting around, frustrated, thinking only about that,” Cheong said. “I cried a lot. I could not focus on anything else.”

After a friend of hers advised her to spend more time teaching and nurturing her child instead of being distraught, she joined a support group that gave her a support system, taught her how to improve the interaction with Johannes and inspired to keep moving forward.

With the newfound knowledge and confidence, Cheong enrolled her son in a childcare center that helped him learn how to speak and become independent, which she took further by expanding Johannes’ perspective through travel, books, music, sports, writing and eventually Special Olympics. He joined Special Olympics as an athlete at the age of 9 and now even trains beginner athletes.

Read more about Helen and Johannes' story here.

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