Friday, June 24, 2011

Child with Down Syndrome Helps Family Re-evaluate Life

SAINT PAUL, Minn. - Five-and-a-half-year-old Gabe King is a person of routine. This morning, Gabe likely woke up long before dawn in the room next to his parents in their Stillwater home. He took off his diaper, put on a clean pull-up and got dressed. Then he banged on his door, locked from the outside because he wanders, and yelled: "Awake! Awake!"

"He's an early-morning person. He'll wake up at 4:45 a.m. or 5 a.m.," Peter King said of his fourth and youngest child, who has Down syndrome. "I'm an early-morning person, too. And, you know what, I wake up to him every morning, and he has this grin on his face. And it's a great way to start the day - it really is."

Fatherhood changes a man. But some kids stretch you more than others. Gabe has brought Peter unconditional love and cheerful exuberance, tested his patience, humbled him, awakened fears about the future and challenged him to redefine success.

"We thought of ourselves as having the 'picture-perfect' life," Peter said about the years before Gabe's birth. "Three beautiful children. Their grades are good. They're athletic. They're healthy. And then suddenly you get this curveball, and your world changes."

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