5-year-old Sawyer Cole stood walked up to the plate at the T-Ball field more than ready to take his first swing. The little boy with Down syndrome had been diagnosed with B Lymphoblastic Leukemia at the end of March a few days after the team’s first practice and had not been able to attend any practices or games as he underwent chemo treatment at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.
“Finally, he felt like going and batting one time,” recalls Sawyer’s mom Kristin Cole. “There wasn’t a dry eye at the field, I don’t think.”
Sawyer will continue with chemo until next May of 2019. This is just the latest challenge the Smith County family is facing since their son was born unexpectedly with Down syndrome.
“It was a shock,” says Cole. “We were numb at first, and then obviously, it didn’t matter after that, and that’s why we didn’t do the genetic test before because it wouldn’t have mattered either way.”
Sawyer remained in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital for 18 days, having several surgeries. After that, their precious bundle of boy underwent physical therapy and occupational therapy for several years until he was recently released.
“For now, he’s where he needs to be,” says his mom. “He was receiving speech and feeding therapy once a week, and we’ve taken a break from that for a few months trying to adjust to his new diagnosis and all the appointments that go along with it.”
Despite the struggles, his mom says the family has a positive attitude.
“I look at it as you can either make it hard, or you can just try to figure it out,” Kristin said. “You have to do it either way. So, there’s no reason in making it harder and stressing about it. You kind of figure it out and go on.”
Take away the physical challenge and Sawyer is like any other little boy.
“He loves any kind of water—pools, waterslides, any kind of slides or swings like going to fairs or amusement parks,” his mom says. “He loves Mickey Mouse and loves to watch Mickey Mouse Club House. His favorite toys are balls, stacking cups, drinking cups, any kind of cups. He can keep himself amused for a long time with those.”
“He’s kind of quiet, but then, he has his little moments when it’s just us. He can get kind of rowdy, and he’s really silly, incredibly loving. He’s so sweet. He’s just a little love bug with certain people.”
Sawyer is the Face of the Race for the 3rd Annual 3.21 Run for Down Syndrome Awareness on Saturday, October 7 at DeKalb West School. You can register for the race at www.321RUN4DS.org.
The event was started in the spring of 2015 by then DWS 8th grade student Addison Oakley. Addison and her family have strong ties to Down syndrome children who are close friends and family. They wanted to raise awareness and provide resources to children with Down syndrome and special needs in rural areas that don’t usually have the resources of people in metropolitan areas. Thanks to the support of folks in DeKalb and Smith Counties, the organization has given back over $10,000 to assist individuals, communities and school systems’ special needs’ programs with games, tools, and other educational supplies to benefit children with Down syndrome and special needs.
“We want to do what we can to help spread word about this race and Down syndrome specifically, and help people realize these kids are different, but they’re extra special too,” adds Cole.
Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. Typically, the nucleus of each cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes.
If you are interested in helping this cause, or would like to donate or become a sponsor, please contact 321Run4DS@gmail.com or at 615-548-4624.