Joey Wittkugle turns 62 even though his doctors had no hope for him on the day he was born. They're throwing a parade in his honor.
When Joey Wittkugle, they told his mom Bobbi that he probably would not live a day past the age of 11. Joey was born with Down syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes a distinct facial appearance, intellectual disability, and developmental delays. However, Joey has defied the odds and will be celebrating his 62nd birthday on June 29. To celebrate all the progress he has made in life, his town of Struthers in Ohio is throwing him a grand birthday parade, WGN TV reports. Anyone is invited to join in on the happy occasion next week.
Another year has passed for Joey Wittkugle and he continues to beat all odds. https://t.co/xCiXOoZQZj— CBS 17 (@WNCN) June 19, 2020
Loving mom Bobbi shared in an interview with the media channel, "The doctor came in and never asked my name and said to me, ‘You have to put him away. He’ll never talk. He’ll never walk. He’ll never know who you are. He will live to the age of 11 and that will be the end of it.'" However, as we know, Joey has outperformed all of his doctors' expectations. When he was first born, of course, it was indeed difficult for his parents. This is because people with Down syndrome were not as accepted as they are now (even though their experiences today are still defined by ableism). Children with Down syndrome were rarely met with the acceptance, sensitivity, and even joy that they are today.
"Sixty-two years ago, nobody knew about them and they kept them in the house," she shared. "I mean, you did not have them out walking or one thing or another." When her son was born, it was Bobbi's priest who helped her realize that her little boy was a blessing. Recalling what he had told her, she said, "Bobbi, you were gifted by God, you were chosen by God to have this child. You can’t turn your back on him. When he leaves you, then you will know the purpose of him coming to you." Thankfully, the mother never gave up on her son and now, he is celebrating his 62nd birthday.
In his honor, Joey's family is organizing a very special birthday parade at 2 pm on June 28 at the 5th Street Plaza in Struthers, near Save A Lot. The celebration, however, is about more than just Joey; it is for everyone with a developmental disability, to let them know that they are special and important. Bobbi said, "[It is] to let people know that these children, these adults are just as human as you and I. They have feelings like we do. They give extra special love." For her, this is not just another birthday. It is another year of her son defying the odds that were stacked against him. It is also an opportunity to show others that he was no mistake. "I want people to start understanding, when you see one of our children, don’t turn your back at them [as] they did years ago," she stated. "They are human, they are special from God and please learn to love them as much as they love you."