David Harshbarger, 3.21 Run Adult Honoree
David Harshbarger keeps his mom on the go. On any given day she may be shuttling him to GiGi’s Playhouse to volunteer in the community, to Chick-fil-A where he makes shakes and delivers orders, or to the park to hike with friends. The 25-year-old has a lot on his plate.
“We knew before he was born there was a slight risk David would be born with Down syndrome,” says David’s mom, Sue Harshbarger. “But we have always treated him the same as our oldest son. We set high, yet realistic expectations and encourage him to reach for the stars.”
David has always been outgoing and intentional, so it should come as no surprise that he has been selected as the 2022 3.21 Run Adult Honoree. David’s family moved from Michigan to Zionsville in 2019 and were pleasantly surprised to find programming like that at GiGi’s Playhouse so soon after arriving. David has participated in GiGi Fit, the S.M.A.R.T. program, and cooking and ballroom dancing classes; but his favorite event is E.P.I.C. where he gets to volunteer in the community with his friends.
“David is an Eagle Scout,” Sue says. “So, he values the idea of giving back to the community. Plus, he is quite social, so he loves being around people and trying new things. In fact, he loves E.P.I.C. so much that he has told his boss he can’t work on Wednesdays, so he doesn’t miss out on anything.”
Sue says the biggest challenge she has faced as a parent was keeping David in mainstream classrooms. “When I was younger, kids with Down syndrome were often hidden away and kept in special needs’ classes. I refused to let the school do that to him. I felt it was important for him to be around regular kids. Inclusion is so much better when kids are knowledgeable about kids with differences. I wanted the kids he went to school with to know what he could do and not see his limitations because one day they will be employers and the ones making policies.”
In addition to GiGi’s, David participates in a weekly book club and hiking club. He also competes in track and cross country at Special Olympics. If Sue had to give one piece of advice to a parent with an adult child with Down syndrome it would be this, “Keep them busy and engaged. As they get older and graduate from high school it’s easy to become isolated. Routines and schedules are so important for their mental health and happiness.”
David’s uplifting story and outlook on life are an inspiration, and we are proud to honor him as the 2022 3.21 Mile Run Adult Honoree.