PHOENIX — Arizona State defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales and his wife Sandra are among the lucky few.
Their family of five was changed when they welcomed their first daughter Chloe into the world.
“I used to always think I was meant to be a boy mom,” said Sandra. “We always laugh, I’m glad that God knows better because if I could have picked, I would have chosen to have two more boys.”
19 months later, came Abby. God gifted the Gonzales’s a healthy baby girl born with Down syndrome.
“Maybe what we thought would be a tough time in our life really wasn’t,” Sandra said. “It’s just a diagnosis, it’s not a definition of who she is it’s just part of who she is. She has blue eyes she has down syndrome and she’s just like everybody else. It’s a description it’s not her definition.”
And the Gonzales’s have fought to provide the same life and education for Abby, a battle that began while living in California. The school system wanted to place her in a separate, “special day” class.
“We had to dig our heels in and say, ‘no, that’s not what we’re doing, that’s not acceptable.’”
“Now some of the kids that have come up with Down syndrome behind Abby, that’s what they offer,” Danny added. “They saw Abby thrive in that environment and how benefiting it can be for everyone, not just Abby.”
The Gonzales’s found a school system in Arizona that is also inclusive, and Abby will start kindergarten in the fall.
“If we can change one person’s mind, change one school’s mind, one school district. It’s just educating people,” said Sandra.
For Danny, she’s even had an impact on the way he coaches his football players, and if you hang around this little girl likely dressed in pink, she might teach you a thing a two as well.
“We all need to learn from each other,” said Sandra. “She’s going to teach you just as much as you’re going to teach her, and maybe even more. I wear this necklace, it says 'The lucky few', and it’s what the Down syndrome community has kind of embraced. We do feel that way, I think we really feel that we are blessed.”