Thursday, January 11, 2018

Humans of Downey - Jason


“I’m like everyone else in that I have a need to love someone and to be loved back. There are different levels of people’s ability to love and to accept others' love, but I need to be in those intimate relationships. Another way I’m like other people is that I want my sons to achieve their full potential. And I want to create an environment for them that lets them do that.

“One reason I’m unique has to do with how I responded to my parents’ lack of participation in my childhood activities. They both worked very hard and only had a small amount of time to spend going to my activities. So, I did it my way. With sports and my martial arts, I took the lead and just went with it. The adult in my life that did help out and spend time with me was my grandfather. He took me to different sporting events. He owned 11 gyms so I always did weightlifting. My aunt was a tri-athlete so she influenced me regarding physical hard work to achieve your goals. Two other ways I’m unique is that I run the largest non-profit reptile education group in California and I have a son with Down syndrome.

“Here’s a story that keeps me going this way. About 10 years ago I got my reptile organization involved with the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation. One day, I brought two of my big snakes to the visiting area where two girls from the oncology ward came to see them. They were in their chairs hooked up to their oxygen masks and IVs. I set one of my albino Burmese snakes on this one girl's lap and she cracked this smile that, every time I tell this story, I get chills. I let her hold the snake, the mom got pictures, and the family was very excited. I’ve seen excitement in what I do and it always drives me on.

“About 10 o’clock that night I got a phone call, but I didn’t recognize the phone number. The voice on the other end said, ‘Jason, I don’t know if you remember me, but you came to the event today, you put the snake on my daughter’s lap and she had a big smile on her face.’ ‘Oh yes, I remember Ashley”, I said. She said, ‘I just wanted to thank you. Ashley passed away tonight.’ And I’m thinking, for what? She said, ‘I owe you everything right now. Without you, every lasting memory of my daughter would have been of her hooked up to those machines. Just nothing. But now I have evidence of my daughter smiling and having a good time and that’s what I’m going to remember.’ And I just lost it.

Stuff like that makes Jason Jason. I work 70 hours a week to keep my non-profit going. It’s who I am.”

~ Jason

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