ABCs by Patrick

At our 2022 Gala, we had the pleasure of having Patrick Gulbranson as our speaker.  Patrick is from Stuart, Iowa, is a 2008 graduate of Waukee High School in Waukee, Iowa, and is an Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor member of the scouting’s Order of the Arrow.  Patrick has been heavily involved with GiGi’s Playhouse in Des Moines since its opening in 2010.  He also competes in Special Olympics, specifically 3-on-3 basketball, track and field, and bowling.  In 2015 he was one of two Iowa Special Olympics athletes to participate in the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles, CA.  This past June, Patrick was a member of the Iowa Special Olympics bowling team that competed in the Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando, FL.  He placed 4th as an individual, 5th in doubles, and 7th in the team competition.  He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Special Olympics Iowa and is a Special Olympics Global Messenger, which is a select group of individuals who meet with and speak to groups and businesses to promote respect and inclusion for persons with disabilities.

Patrick is the brother of one of our former board members and current gala committee member Tim Gulbranson. His speech brought tears and laughter to the room and we wanted to share it with all of you because we think it’s the #bestofall rendition of the ABCs we’ve ever heard.

My mom collects alphabet books.  She just gave them to Tim (brother) and Jaclyn (sister-in-law) to share with Henry and Violet (nephew and niece). I thought it would be a good idea to tell you about me, an adult with Down syndrome using the ABCs.


A is for acting! I love being on stage, like this one.  I was in plays and musicals for 8 years at Waukee High School! I think my favorite was “The Music Man”.  I saw the butter sculpture of it at the Iowa State Fair this summer.

B is for bowling and basketball.  In 2015, I competed at the World Special Olympics games in Los Angeles bowling, and this June I went to Orlando Florida for the USA games.  I won 4th, 5th, and 7th place medals there.  I had a blast at Disney and ESPN.  In November I will compete in state bowling. Look out pins! You are coming down!  This winter I will compete in 5 on 5 unified basketball.  I can’t wait!

C is for Cousins.  I have lots of cousins, but my favorites are my niece Violet and my nephews, Henry and Christopher.  When they get together, Look out! It’s pretty wild.

D is for Dance. I love to dance. Jaclyn and I will show you our moves later.  I even earned a gold medal in dance one year at State Special Olympics.   I can dance all night!

E is for Eagle Scout.  I am an Eagle Scout like my Dad and 3 brothers.  My project was to build a shelter in a park in Stuart.  I am a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow and even backpacked for 10 days at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.  I am always prepared!

F is for Fantastic Friday Friends.  I spend most Friday evenings at GiGi’s in Des Moines.  We karaoke, dance, eat, play games, and visit. That’s where I was last night!  I love it!

G is for Global Messenger.  I get to go around and give speeches like this. We have a training coming up soon that I get to help with.

H is for Home.  My apartment is my home.  I moved in the day after I graduated from high school.  I have lived there by myself for 14 years. I enjoy doing my laundry and try to keep it clean.

I is for Iowa Hawkeyes.  You should see my apartment!  The living room, kitchen and even the bathroom are decorated with Hawkeye stuff.  I’m a fan!  Go Hawks!

J is for Jim.  He is my younger brother.  He helps me with electronics and teaches me lots of new stuff.  He works for Northwest Missouri State University.  I like it when he comes home.

K is for kitchen.  I’m learning to cook for myself.  I do pretty well with breakfast and hot dogs.  I sometimes have trouble keeping up with dishes and cleaning.

L is for Love!  I have so much love in my life. I also feel like I am very lucky.

M is for McDonald’s.  I have worked at the Stuart, IA McDonalds for 18 years.  I work 5 days a week on the grill. I even train new workers. We are always busy but I love working there.

N is for Never say never! I like to try new things.  This summer I was a Bacon Buddy at the fair and showed a pig.

O is for operation. I had an operation when I was a baby to fix my heart.  It didn’t slow me down!

P is for Patrick. that’s me!  I like being an adult who can sign my own checks and important papers.  I have my own debit card and make my own decisions.  P is also for my oldest brother Pete.  He is a Rambling’ Wreck from Georgia Tech and is an engineer working for the US State Department.

Q is for quiet which I am not!  I sometimes need to be reminded to turn my music down.

R is for the R-Word.  I love to give speeches to get people to stop saying it.  It really makes me mad when I hear it!

S is for my sister Susie.  She is an actress and is really cool.  She and her wife Sandy have 2 dogs and a cat.  They love animals.

T is for my brother Tim.  Many of you know him.  He is a lawyer.  I hope he never has to get me out of jail!

U is for understanding.  I know most of you understand Down syndrome.  If you don’t just ask me.

V is for very fun.  This speech has been very fun for me to give.  I hope you have enjoyed it too.

W is for winners.  The Down syndrome people I know are winners!

X is for the xtra Chromosome people with Down syndrome have.  it’s what makes us special!

Y is for YES!  Please say Yes if you are asked to volunteer or donate to GiGi’s Playhouse!

Z is for ZZZZZZZs. I hope I have not put you to sleep!

GiGi’s Playhouse has been an important part of my life.  Please support it as best you can.  HAVE A GREAT EVENING!  I WILL SEE YOU ON THE DANCE FLOOR!

Many thanks to Patrick for the inspirational and educational speech. We hope someone left that room (or this blog) knowing more about what a person with Down syndrome is capable of. We’re proud of you! Thank you for sharing your ABCs with us.

If you want to know more about Down syndrome or GiGi’s Playhouse just ask Patrick or give our Playhouse a call!


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