With everyone experiencing a “new normal,” a high school student from Bismarck with Down Syndrome says one of the things he misses the most is getting to see his friends every day. We met with him to find out how he’s been adjusting during the pandemic.
Ethan Mueller, a 16-year old that attends Legacy High School, had heart surgery right after he was born — but that hasn’t kept him from living his life to the fullest.
“I like to go outside, go to the river. There’s a bunch of girls there,” said Ethan.
“He likes the ladies. He’s a ladies man. He likes to dig in the sand. We like to go on the jet ski,” said Brian Mueller, Ethan’s dad.
Since the pandemic, Ethan’s had to stay home due to distance learning and he says he’s just missing his friends.
“Anytime that he can spend time with his peers especially, he turns into a different character sometimes,” said Brian.
One common myth about those with Down syndrome is that they are incapable of living what most people might consider to be a “full life,” but the Mueller’s disagree.
“Are you awesome?” Brian asked.
“Oh yea,” Ethan replied.
“And you can do anything right?” his dad said.
“Yep,” said Ethan.
Brian added, “Do you have any limitations?”
Ethan said, “Nope.”
Despite the life changes due to the coronavirus, Ethan says he’s excited to continue learning — even though it’ll be from a distance — and hopes to be a construction worker someday.
Ethan’s story comes around the time the annual Buddy Walk would soon be approaching, and it is — but this year, it’ll be virtual. The Mueller’s said when the Buddy Walk takes place in September, they will take part — just in their own back yard.
Roxane Romanick with Designer Genes, the organization that hosts the Buddy Walk, says awareness surrounding Down Syndrome is important for all to pay mind to.
“I think we always associate Down syndrome with and intellectual disability and certainly that is their disability. However, that has nothing to do with capacity. Capacity to learn, the capacity to grow. Capacity to contribute,” said Romanick.
For information on how you can participate in the virtual walk go here.