Reasons to Smile“For my brother,” said Anila Jolly of Buckinghamshire, England, “positivity, joy, and happiness are routine. He has thrived, despite the difficulties of the era in which he was born, and has shown remarkable resilience through life’s traumas.”

Anila’s love for her brother, her only sibling, is evident. Her faith in his unfailing love is memorable. “For me,” she writes, “I know that my brother’s strength will be my own personal lodestar; that he will hold on to my hand tightly, and lead me into our future–together.”

Anila’s brother has Down Syndrome

     *     *     *     *

“He is sweet, gentle, loves babies, and enjoys music to the fullest! He loves his brothers and his niece and nephews. He has taught me so much, and I am thankful I’m his mother.” Teresa Eaton of Riverside, California is talking about her son Ricky.

Ricky has Down Syndrome.

     *     *     *     *

“Conor has already taught us valuable lessons. He has taught us to appreciate the tranquility of sitting together quietly, as he studies our faces with his perceptive blue eyes. He has taught us a depth of empathy we have never known. When he detects a look of pain or sadness, his expression changes to that of concern, with lower lip protruded, and he reaches his tiny hands out to touch our faces. Most of all, Conor has taught us to genuinely love each new experience, as much as we love him.” Thomas Pellinger of Berlin, Maryland is talking about his beloved son Conor.

Conor has Down Syndrome.

     *     *     *     *

There are 56 happy stories like these in Reasons to Smile: Celebrating People Living with Down Syndrome. Most of the brief essays are written by parents, but siblings, too, step up to share the joy they find in sharing life with someone who has the chromosomal abnormality.

Editors Andrea Knauss and Elizabeth Martins have assembled stories from all over the world, and in so doing, they have helped others to understand that a child with developmental disabilities attributable to Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome) is still a valuable and lovable person–that parents need not fear welcoming this new life into their hearts and home.

And there is a bonus: Perhaps you’ve heard about “Tim’s Place,” the restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico operated by Tim Harris, who has Down Syndrome. Tim even features on his menu what he calls “Tim Hugs”–because he really enjoys hugging his patrons and making them feel appreciated. Well, a portion of the proceeds from sale of Reasons to Smile will be donated to Tim’s Big Heart Foundation (timsbigheartfoundation.org).