Three-Year-Old Boy with Down Syndrome Sends Message to the World

To celebrate World Down Syndrome Day last week, the family of three-year-old Will Daub, or Iron Will as they call him, created a brilliant video in the hopes of sharing Will’s accomplishments with the world and to illustrate the beauty of people with Down syndrome.

Opening with the image of the sun coming up over the earth, and created in the style of a military recruiting video, 3-Year-Old Boy with Down Syndrome Sends Message to the World contains stunning black-and-white video of Will climbing on playground equipment, running, drumming, and playing and having fun with his family.

Will’s father Andrew said the inspiration for the military theme came because he “wanted a video that was as hardcore in its messaging and thematic elements as Iron Will is in his approach to life.” He said he hoped the video would show “Will’s zeal for living, and his relentless, resilient nature in the face of continual adversity.”

It does exactly that and so much more. This heartwarming and inspirational video not only addresses the stark reality that people with Down syndrome face prenatally, but it shows the beauty of family, of sibling love, and of parental advocacy.

The video offers hope and positivity in a world where most people with Down syndrome never even make it to birth. Tragically, the world is out to eradicate Down syndrome by eradicating the people with Down syndrome before they are even born. Estimates vary but find that between 60-90% (or higher in some countries) of babies prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted.

The Daubs want this number to be zero. And they want the world to know that all people have inherent value. As the video says, “My value doesn’t come from what I can do. It comes from who I am—a human being created in the image and likeness of God.”

Creation of the video was definitely a family affair, with the script written by Will’s parents—Catherine and Andrew—and Will’s big brother Michael. It was then narrated by Will’s brother James with a little AI help. And it features all seven of Will’s siblings.

Michael wanted to help create the video to change hearts and minds. He stated:

It’s hard to really say what I would want people to know about people with Down syndrome because I don’t really think much of it with Will. I accept him for who he is without thinking too much about what’s different about him. People with Down syndrome aren’t as different as they’re made out to be, and if you just treat them as normal human beings, like you would with anyone else, then they’ll surprise you with the things that they can do that you never would have expected from them if you believed what the world wants you to believe.

And so the family set out to send their message to the world.

Yet the Daub family is no stranger to advocacy. When Catherine originally received the prenatal diagnosis that Will would likely have Down syndrome, she began an Internet search to learn the best ways to care for him and meet his needs. Until she found a loving Down syndrome community, most of what she initially read scared her with negativity.

The video explains, “They create fear around our existence by telling our parents and the world all the things that we can’t or won’t be able to do. Call it bad intel or fake news. Either way, they’re all wrong.”

Catherine understood this and knew she would have to become Will’s greatest champion.

Soon after his birth, Catherine and Andrew created Team Iron Will “to support, encourage, and advocate for individuals with Down syndrome as they discover their God-given potential.” Their vision “is a world in which all human beings with Down syndrome are treated with respect, dignity, and love at every stage of life. A world where they are not required to prove their value, defend their existence, or fight for access to opportunity.”

Team Iron Will not only advocates for children with Down syndrome, but it helps families afford therapy equipment and provides care packages for families whose children also suffer from infantile spasms. They want families in the Down syndrome community to know that, though they may encounter struggles and difficult health problems with their child, as they have with Will, there is a wonderful community that will support and educate them on the best ways to help their children thrive.

Creating awareness and hope is why the Daubs made this video and why they have become such strong advocates for Will. As Andrew said, “My hope is that the video stands apart from most productions with its uncompromising, unapologetic messaging and driving, dramatic undertones. Living as a person with Down syndrome isn’t all fluff and flowers, and they work darn hard to get where they’re going. That should be recognized and celebrated.”

So let us celebrate people with Down syndrome every day, and let us teach others to see beauty where before they may have seen only a disability. As the video says, “All I need are people who believe in me, people who will stand by me, not because they pity me but because they know I deserve to be here just as much as they do.”

The video ends with the words “Relentless. Forward. Progress.”

Let these words inspire us to move forward relentlessly in love because we know that awareness increases knowledge, knowledge leads to understanding, and understanding builds a culture of life where no one is discarded before they are even born.

This article first appeared in the Catholic World Report at catholicworldreport.com/2024/03/25/three-year-old-iron-will-shares-the-beauty-of-people-with-down-syndrome.

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About the author

Susan Ciancio

Susan Ciancio is the editor of Celebrate Life Magazine and executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program.