DOWNERS GROVE – Like a tiny rising star in the broad spectrum of life, 3-year-old Nico Brito of Downers Grove has been invited to Times Square in New York City to launch the 25th annual Buddy Walk.
Brito’s picture was selected from thousands of photos to be featured on the jumbo screen as part of the National Down syndrome Society presentation set for Sept 14.
“The presentation aims to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome and celebrate diversity,” according to a segment featured on ABC Channel 7 news.
The yearly educational and inspirational event celebrates the accomplishments and abilities of those with the disorder and is run by parents and families of those affected by it. More than 300,000 participants worldwide walk each year to support the cause, which benefits education, research, advocacy programming and fundraising since its inception in 1995.
Proud parents Socrates and Jacqueline Brito can hardly contain their excitement.
“We have friends and family coming in from Texas, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York to celebrate this spectacular event, and the community has been very supportive also,” Jacqueline Brito said. “We are so proud of him. Our hope is to break down barriers, and our motto is to help him be the best he can be.”
The NYC flagship walk will start at 11 a.m. and stretch for one mile starting at the Great Hill in Central Park.
Sean Elivee, cast member of the Emmy award-winning A&E television series, “Born this Way,” will make a guest appearance. The docuseries highlights the outgoing personalities and amazing abilities of seven young adults born with Down syndrome. It won an Emmy Award in 2016 and won the 2018 Critics Choice Award.
A student at Grove Children’s Preschool since August, Nico was featured on the cover of two greeting cards in the National Association for Down Syndrome’s 2017 holiday appeal.
One card showcases him sleeping soundly on a pile of favored children’s books, a tuft of distinctive, shiny black hair crowning his head. The other shows the newborn cradled securely in his father’s hands.
Nico is developing his personality and is “very sociable” and loves interacting with people, including his 7-month-old baby sister, Ellie.
“His daily routine includes greeting her each morning with comments like, ‘Hug her, kiss her,’ ” Jacqueline Brito said. Nico also delights in books such as the “Llama Llama” series and the popular Mo Willems collection.
The toddler also finds favor in singing and dancing joyfully to classic childhood songs such as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and “Wheels on the Bus.”
“We learned early in my pregnancy that Nico had Down syndrome, and we considered the doctor appointments, challenges and special needs he would require,” Nico’s mother said. “But we are so grateful that he is part of our lives. He is an amazing child who brings incredible joy to our hearts. When choosing a name for him, I liked the name Nico, but making a final decision was tough. When I learned that Nico meant ‘victory of the people,’ however, the decision was clear.”
“We are extremely proud of our son,” Socrates Brito said. “He has a great sense of humor, and we enjoy watching his personality flourish. He continues to provide inspiration and happiness for our family.”
Down syndrome is defined as a genetic disorder caused by all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21. Frequently, there are physical delays, mild to moderate intellectual disability and different facial features. However, individuals with Down syndrome often exhibit special advanced qualities such as increased tolerance, compassion and awareness.
More of Nico’s contagious smile and inspiring joy can be found on his recently created, but increasingly popular account: Instagram @MrNicoBrito
Nico’s fundraising page for the NYC Buddy Walk is www.classy.org/team/247900.