In 2007, we were expecting our third child and on September 10, 2007, after a normal pregnancy with no indications of complications, we welcomed our healthy baby boy, Luke Vincent, into the world. After further evaluation and several days of testing our lives immediately changed when we received confirmation that Luke had Down Syndrome. Although Luke was fortunate as he did not have the expected health conditions typically associated with Down Syndrome, nonetheless, we knew that Luke would still experience many challenges.
Soon after diagnosis, Luke started early intervention where he received PT and OT on a weekly basis. Although he was making great strides, at 15 months we started noticing some set-backs. Shortly thereafter, Luke was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (specific to Down Syndrome). We immediately started treatment and for the next nine months, Children’s Hospital was our second home. We worked through it as a family and, in many ways, with Luke as our leader. He was strong and resilient and through it all Luke showed us who he was and who he continues to be.
Luke started his education at the Presbyterian Preschool Program in Glenshaw. At that time, Luke’s two older brothers were attending St. Mary’s of the Assumption, now Blessed Trinity Academy. I was starting to feel uneasy about where I was going to send Luke to Kindergarten. I knew that he would have academic challenges and did not want him to be separated from his two older brothers. Hoping for the best, we contacted the principal of St. Mary’s to see if there were any accommodations that could be made for Luke. Unfortunately, no such program existed at the time.
A year later, we received a letter announcing the St. Anthony’s Program at St. Mary’s of the Assumption and the rest is history! Not only has the program provided an opportunity for Luke to go to school with his brothers, but in Luke’s 6 years in the St. Anthony’s Program, he has made amazing progress both academically and socially. Luke is a typical 11-year-old who loves hanging out with his friends and playing with his brothers. He is fun-loving, happy, and always knows when you’re in need of a hug. His giggle is contagious and his charm is infectious. To know Luke is to love Luke.
With the St. Anthony’s Program, Luke is able to work at his own pace, developing confidence as he continues to advance. Best of all, not only is Luke receiving a Catholic education but he also has the opportunity to make his sacraments. The St. Anthony’s Program has been such a tremendous blessing and we are eternally grateful. We have the peace of mind knowing that Luke will face whatever challenges come his way as he always has—with the strength of character and the faith of a child.