To those who enjoy listening to country music, there is a higher likelihood than most folks that you’ve landed upon the name, “John Paul Von Arx.”
And even if you haven’t and even if you don’t enjoy listening to country music, that’s cool—what is inspiring is the Christian singer-songwriter’s message for parents expecting a baby with Down syndrome.
Released in early October, “He’s Different” shares the story of Von Arx’s youngest brother who has the condition—about all the “differences” or, rather, challenges and peculiarities that can enhance the life of someone looking after a child with special needs.
While such dedication and commitment can bring comfort and joy to a loved one who requires extra support during their formative years, and in many cases beyond, it can also elevate the stress and hardship of parenting.
“When I was 14, my mom told me that she was pregnant with him,” Von Arx sings about his brother, Sam. “She and my dad were worried because the new life inside was different.”
Reflecting upon the day that Sam was born, the first chorus continues, “Oh, he’s peaceful, peaceful and free.” Indeed, and while Von Arx acknowledges in the second verse that his brother may “not ever be at the top of his class,” Sam will “take his sweet time and enjoy his whole life.”
“I believe that who he is, is more than I’ll ever be,” Von Arx champions his loved one at the end of the song, “’Cause my little brother can love more than he seems.”
Von Arx grew up in Illinois, and serves as coordinator of worship at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, as well as a worship leader for the Steubenville Youth Conferences and Steubenville Parish Missions.
The music video of the song, “He’s Different,” was intentionally released at the start of “Down Syndrome Awareness Month.”
“My goal,” Von Arx states, “is to give hope to parents expecting a baby with Down syndrome and solidarity with families of people with special needs, as well as to combat and eliminate the stigma often associated with children who have special needs.”
The country music performer wants to share the attributes of special needs children in a way that transcends the challenges of their inherent conditions, and the strain on their carers and loved ones. He describes Sam as one of the “funniest, most loving and joyful people you will ever meet.”
Von Arx has also dedicated the song to his parents, stating, “Thanks for the love you have for our family.”
Click here to listen to the heartwarming song. And to support Von Arx in spreading his message of hope to families caring for loved ones with special needs, and to help reduce the stigma surrounding those cast to be “different,” consider sharing the song with friends and family.
And while God-fearing brothers like Von Arx can inspire and inform others in a similar, or completely unaffected, situation, some couples rise to the challenges of raising children with disabilities through God’s Holy Grace, and each other’s support and love.
Meet Gemma and Aaron DeWitt, a Catholic couple who live in Missouri with their six children—four of whom have a rare genetic condition known as “Allan-Herndon-Dudley Syndrome” (AHDS) that leaves when unable to walk or talk.
While the couple’s eldest children, 13-year-old Rachele and 11-year-old Moses, did not inherit the condition, 7-year-old Ezykiel, 5-year-old Jeremiah and their twin baby boys, Iosef Maximilian and Binjamin Pius, will likely use a wheelchair for life, and require physical, occupational and speech therapy to help manage their condition.
It goes without saying that there is no shortage of doctors who might persuade couples in a similar situation to the DeWitts to snuff out their preborn children’s lives. Indeed, there is no shortage of expecting parents who might accept such unholy advice.
Yet the devoutly pro-life DeWitt family actively prepared for the births of their youngest sons through planning and prayer, in full knowledge that they had inherited a mutated gene in the X-chromosome that causes AHDS.
This condition, which occurs exclusively in males, disrupts a baby’s development while in the womb; it is reflected in a malfunctioning thyroid hormone receptor (THR), and the degree of potential disability corresponds to the severity of the THR. As such, Ezykiel and Jeremiah cannot coordinate their movements and independently walk or sit, and thus rely on specialized wheelchairs and walkers.
Like many diseases caused by genetic conditions, there are ongoing clinical trials to help develop treatment plans that may improve the quality and duration of life. While pregnant with twins, Mrs. DeWitt participated in a medication trial aimed at helping limit or prevent the symptoms of AHDS altogether, hoping to allow the babies’ brains to develop healthily. Indeed, she was the first pregnant woman to go through the trial, led by Dr. Roy Weiss, an endocrinologist and Chief Medical Officer for Ambulatory Services at the University of Miami Health System.
As a Catholic couple, the DeWitts continue to pray their Family Rosary, and call upon the intercession of St. Joseph, St. Michael the Archangel and the Holy Guardian Angels.
Speaking to LifeSiteNews, Mr. DeWitt said about his dear children:
“They are wonderful, wonderful kids who just smile. … These are people I’m going to see again in Heaven … I know that Jesus is resurrected, and so I look to that for hope.”
And as much as the couple would have been overjoyed to observe the birth of their twins devoid of AHDS effects, “whatever God has in store for me and my family, that’s good enough,” said Mrs. DeWitt as reported in CatholicMissourian.
Indeed, their profound faith is at the heart of the couple’s lives as they unite fully with God’s grace.
Friends of the DeWitt family have helped launch a plan to provide financial support for their twin sons, Iosef and Binjamin. Furthermore, their videos featuring family life can be viewed on YouTube and Rumble, and serve as a source of encouragement for other families caring for children with special needs.
“There isn’t a thing that God hasn’t taken care of for me and my family,” Mrs. DeWitt has said. “Every twist and turn, God has been right there in it.”
Content syndicated from Dear Rest of America with permission
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