Be the change… how our community responded to a hate crime with love

What started out as a revolting story of a young man being taken advantage of has become one of solidarity and generosity.

As the Down syndrome community kicked off Down syndrome acceptance month, one of their own was at work on a seemingly typical day. Like many young men, Kyle has been working at a local store for over a decade, he enjoys spending time with his family, has fulfilling friendships and tries to stay in shape. But unlike most young men, Kyle has Down syndrome and many things that come naturally to most, he works much harder to accomplish. One thing that comes easily though is his willingness to help others in need. So, while he was working a seemingly typical shift and two women approached him to ask for a little money, he was more than willing to pull out his wallet and help.

And then they robbed him.

Rather than accepting his kindness, they exploited his vulnerabilities. They knew he wouldn’t, likely assumed (incorrectly) that he couldn’t, fight back. And in a moment of depravity, a moment they will likely come to regret, they snatched his wallet and ran. They left Kyle dumbfounded, in disbelief that people could do something so unbelievable. It’s since left an entire community in disbelief and left many feeling like maybe society hasn’t changed as much as we all hope.

But the story didn’t end there.

It’s true that they found a way to access his money, but they had no way to know that they would unlock far more than just his bank account. As soon as Kyle’s mom posted on her neighborhood group page asking for information, the community sprang into action. The original post was shared quickly around the Phoenix Valley so that the thieves could be identified and brought to justice. The family received calls, visits, and offers of financial support. The bank quickly reimbursed the funds, and despite all the family was going through, they immediately reached out to GiGi’s Playhouse Phoenix to ask how they could redirect these funds for the benefit of the community.

The outpouring of generosity has led to donations of over 3 times the amount that was stolen.

This story is a jarring reminder that bad people do exist and bad things do happen, but sometimes the most beautiful things grow out of the places you least expect. Those two women could never have predicted that their own selfishness would cascade into a lake of generosity, that the entire community would create ripples in that lake that would surround this family with love, support, and restitution. The trauma was real for Kyle and his family, but it’s his acceptance within the community, the generosity of countless individuals and the overwhelming outpouring of kindness that will see them through and create a world where individuals with Down syndrome are accepted and embraced.

 

If you would like to support Kyle and GiGi’s Playhouse’s mission to change the way the world views Down syndrome, please follow this link:
Support Kyle

Guest Blog submitted by Laura Kimble

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