It could be argued that one of the most important things in this world is valuing fellow human beings equally, regardless of race, religion or appearance.
My parents worked tirelessly to remind me that every stranger you meet is deserved of your respect until they prove otherwise. To me, the idea of judging someone based on the way they look, or the differences between us, is cruel and, frankly put, no proper way to behave.
Sadly, some people just can’t seem to help themselves. They see others different from them and decide to ridicule and belittle. Others are ready to doubt the capabilities of people living with conditions or illnesses, instead of choosing to give them a chance.
One man, Joey Wittkugle, was counted out right from the get-go, but his story serves as the perfect reminder that not all books should be judged by their covers
Bobbi Wittkugle, of Struthers, Ohio, can easily recall the day she welcomed her son, Joey, into the world. On that day, she was presented with a life-changing decision to make, and make it she did.
For context, Joey was born with Down Syndrome, and doctors were less than optimistic as to his chances in life.
According to reports, Bobbi said that a physician approached her shortly after Joey’s birth and told her that her baby would never talk, never walk, and might not even recognize her.
The comments broke Bobbi’s heart. Furthermore, she was then told by doctors that her son Joey would only survive until he was 11 years old.
Back then, Down Syndrome wasn’t as well understood as it is today, and Bobbi explained that it was hard for individuals to embrace or welcome babies with genetic abnormalities.
Bobbi, though, knew one thing above all else: she loved her baby, even if she wasn’t completely sure what to do.
The young mother confided in a priest, who told her that she had been selected by God to have Joey. From that moment on, Bobbi never looked back, and she and Joey would defy every obstacle in their path.
In fact, on June 29, 2020, Joey turned 62 years of age. Not bad for a man doctors said would die around his 11th birthday.
To mark the event, his family threw a birthday parade in his hometown. Bobbi, who was 90 at the time, said: “When you see one of our children, don’t turn your back at them like they did years ago. They are human, they are special from God and please learn to love them as much as they love you.”
Joey’s special birthday parade was made up of all of his favorite things, including automobiles, trucks, motorbikes, and first responders there to wish Joey well.
Joey was left in tears of joy at the parade, but sat with a beaming smile on his face as the vehicles passed him.
His mother, sitting beside him, planted a kiss on his cheek and said “I love you”. Three simple words, yet they carry the weight of the world.
I don’t know about you, but this story simply made my heart warm.
All children deserve to be loved and cherished. I think we can all agree on that!
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