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12/09/14 –

Dear Tom,

On December 13th 2014, Ezra Roy will make history. He will graduate from college magna cum laude. This fact alone sets him apart from most of his contemporaries. There is, however, something that makes this story truly extraordinary; Ezra Roy has Down syndrome.  Ezra will be the first person with Down Syndrome to graduate from a four-year university without “special education” classes according to the national Down syndrome association.

Ezra was born in 1988. Shortly after his birth he was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. His biological mother abandoned him, and a young single father, a military veteran and struggling law student, was faced with the decision to raise the disabled child alone. Ezra’s father, Alvin Roy, had a deep love and appreciation for art. Ezra would sit at his father’s side and watch him paint for hours. His father began teaching his son with modified techniques, Ezra’s cognitive faculties and manual dexterity grew steadily.

Overcoming many obstacles including health challenges, Ezra graduated from high school. He then asked his father about college. Determined to give his son a normal life, Alvin Roy enrolled his son at Texas southern university in Houston Texas. Ezra and his father faced many challenges; they were not without their detractors and critics. But they overcame these challenges.

Alvin sacrificed much for his son, he gave up his legal pursuits, and opened an art studio, where today he trains other children and young adults with Down Syndrome and Autism in the special techniques that helped Ezra to achieve what formally was thought to be impossible.

As our nation struggles with civil unrest, protests, and demonstrations, please help me celebrate a young man who wouldn’t quit, and a father who never gave up hope.