This article was featured in Huntsman Alumni Magazine – Fall 2015
I believe that the person you become is determined by the books you read and the people you associate with. Throughout my life I’ve been fortunate to surround myself with exemplary men and women. Many of whom have been through my affiliation with the Huntsman School of Business. Their examples have helped shape who I am today. However, one person stands above the rest as an example of someone I hope to become. His name is Nash. He is 8 years old. He is my son and he has Down syndrome.
I’ll never forget the day Nash was born. It was filled with all the excitement that comes with a new baby. A rush to the hospital. The inspiring efforts of my wife Andrea as she endured intense labor. The awe and wonder of seeing our baby for the first time. But just as life does sometimes, the unexpected took place.
Shortly after Nash was born the doctor quietly pulled me aside and said, “Brady, we think your son has Down syndrome.” Fear and anxiety overcame me as I tried to make sense of the news. I wasn’t sure what the future held for me and my young family.
The next few hours were filled with tears as well as moments of deep reflection as together, Andrea and I, held our new baby. It was during that time that I came to realize that everything was going to be okay. I recall looking into my son’s eyes and feeling something very special. I felt that this boy would inspire the hearts of many. The first heart he would inspire was my own.
Having a son with Down syndrome gave me the opportunity to become involved in the Down syndrome community. It was through this association that I learned of the many babies throughout the world who are born with Down syndrome and are abandoned at birth because of their perceived disability. I knew I had to help them.
“I felt that this boy would inspire the hearts of many. The first heart he would inspire was my own.”
The idea came for me to start competing in triathlons to help raise awareness and funding for adoption grants for these children. This started as I began competing in small local triathlons but quickly grew into the chance to race in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii where my son and I were featured on the 2012 NBC Ironman broadcast.
The momentum from that experience allowed me to launch the non-profit organization RODS (Racing for Orphans with Down Syndrome). Today over 200 athletes from around the world and countless volunteers give of their time and talents to help orphaned children find homes. Through their efforts, hundreds of thousands of dollars has been raised as adoption grants and most importantly, 17 orphaned children and counting, now have loving homes!
The person we become is determined by the books we read and the people we associate with. I believe that anyone willing to “Dare Mighty Things” and allow themselves to get caught up in a cause greater than themselves will experience life through different eyes. Eyes that inspire a more meaningful vision. Eyes that enable us to live a life of heartfelt impact toward improving the lives of others.