Today is day 4 of Noah’s first trip to New York, and let me tell you, for a 1 year old, this kid knows how to have fun in the Big Apple! Â Yesterday we had a great time hanging out with Ryan Langston, the young model with Down syndrome, and his family. And today we had theÂ privilegeÂ of meeting aÂ pioneerÂ in the Down syndrome community, Chris Burke.
Before Becky, there was Corky!
When you think of actors (orÂ actresses) with Down syndrome you may think of Lauren Potter who plays Becky Jackson on Glee. But way before Becky ever put on her cheerleading outfit, Chris Burke was playing the role of Corky on theÂ televisionÂ show Life Goes On.
Life Goes On aired between 1989-1993, and revolved around a family of four, the Thacher’s. Chris Burke played the role of Corky Thacher and basically gave the world a window into what life is like raising a child with Down syndrome. (Much like what we’re trying to do with our website!)
Here’s a little known fact about how Life Goes On got its start. Chris Burke’s first acting job was in the movie Desperate. ABC producers saw the movie and enjoyed Chris’s acting so much they asked theÂ executiveÂ producer (Michael Braverman) to create an entireÂ televisionÂ program around Â Chris Burke, and Life Goes On was born.
Doesn’t Chris Burke look great?!
Pretty awesome, and forward thinking, don’t you think. (EspeciallyÂ consideringÂ this was the late 80′s!) Way to go ABC! (Note to anyÂ televisionÂ executives that may be reading this;Â I’d love to see moreÂ televisionÂ programs includeÂ peopleÂ with special needs. I think it really helps ourÂ culture to put away inaccurateÂ stereotypes.)
What’s Chris (aka Corky) up to these days?
We had theÂ opportunityÂ to visit TheÂ NationalÂ DownÂ SyndromeÂ Society’s office while we were in New York. What’s funny is we were going to their offices to meet with some of their staff, and had no idea that Chris Burke even worked for the National Down SyndromeÂ Society, much less expected to meetÂ him.
But then, in the middle of our meeting in theÂ conferenceÂ room, walks in Chris Burke to grab his lunch that was in the smallÂ refrigeratorÂ in theÂ conferenceÂ room.I couldn’t believe it!
Not only was it super cool,Â but Chris and Noah became instant friends! Winning!
Noah made a new friend!
Chris and I became goodÂ friendsÂ as well…..
Hanging out with our new friends from NDSS!
Noah takes another bite out of the Big Apple
After our time at NDSS we took in some more sights in the City. Being a huge Apple Geek I wanted to check out Apple’s newest (and biggest) retail store. If you hadn’t heard, Apple built a store inside of Grand Central Station, and it isÂ absolutelyÂ stunning! (Yes, I just called a computer store stunning.)
The picture below is of a building called “The Flatiron Building.” It’s one of favorite buildings in New YorkÂ simplyÂ because of it’s uniqueness. Pretty cool, huh?
The flatiron building is, well, um, flat!
And now for one of the coolestÂ things I’ve done in my entire life!
There are few things in my life that make my list of “the coolest things I’ve ever done.” Having our son, getting married to the most awesome lady in the world,Â meetingÂ the Eyeglass rapper in Japan, finishing my Master’sÂ degree, you know, things like that. Well, today I’m excited to be able to add another awesome adventure to that list; visiting a New York CityÂ Fire station!
When we arrived in New York I got a message from someone who followed our journey on Noah’s Dad Facebook saying he was a frireman in New York and that we were welcome to come by his firehouse! It took me less than 2 seconds to think about it, before replying back with a “Yes! What time can we come by.)
We walked over to Fire Station 14 and met Michael, who turns out to be the fireman in charge ofÂ actually driving the firetruck! How awesome is that!!!
Michael also has a son with DownÂ syndrome, and it turns out he, and all the guys in his station, are huge softies! Shhhhhh, don’t tell them I told you that! But seriously, it was a lot of fun seeing all of the huge, manly, New York City Fireman totally melt when they got around a little baby. It really was touching. I wasÂ especiallyÂ touched by how great a dad our new friendÂ MichaelÂ was. He was totally in love with his family, and told us all about them, including showing us lots of fun iPhone pictures. I love seeing father’s like Michael who are doing it right. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the contrast of this huge, stud fireman, totally melting when he was talking about his family, I think I may have even saw a tear!
I’m glad Michael reached out to us and invited us to come by theÂ Fire station. NotÂ justÂ becauseÂ we got to go on an awesome tour of theÂ fire station, (and something else that was crazy awesome, but I’m not sure if I’m allowed toÂ publicizeÂ it, so it’ll have to be myÂ secret…but let me just say…it was awesome!) butÂ becauseÂ we made a new friend. We’re looking forward toÂ visitingÂ with Michael the next time we’re in New York, and hope we got the chance to meet his family as well!
And to Michael, thanks for opening up your home away from home to us, and for being such a great dad and husband. It’s aÂ privilegeÂ to call you a friend!
Afterwards that wasn’t much that could top that, so we hung out a bit before heading to the Hotel to crash. Tomorrow we were looking forward to heading home.
Did you watch Life Goes On, or moreÂ recentlyÂ Glee? Do you enjoy seeingÂ televisionÂ shows that show people with special needs? Do you think it’s important for movies andÂ televisionÂ programs to be inclusive in their casting? Why or why not? Leave a comment below and tell us your thoughts.