MERRIFIELD -- Andrew Tabor may only be about 3 feet tall, but the spunky Merrifield boy soon will be larger than life in Times Square.
Andrew, the 3-year-old son of Mark and Kay Tabor, owners of Fishin' Mission Resort, was one of 200 people with Down syndrome chosen from about 1,000 entries to be featured as a part of the National Down Syndrome Society's awareness campaign. His photo will appear in a video that will be shown Sept. 29 on the large NBC Astrovision by Panasonic television screen in Times Square.
Kay Tabor couldn't be prouder of her youngest child.
"I'll probably cry," said Tabor. She and Andrew will travel to New York City next week along with three other family members for the event, which will be followed by the 2002 Buddy Walk in Central Park that they'll also participate in to raise funds for the National Down Syndrome Society.
Andrew was diagnosed with Down syndrome when he was 6 months old.
"It was devastating because you think you have a normal, healthy baby," said Tabor. "Then I went on the Internet and read everything I could find (about Down syndrome) but it was depressing.
"It was like someone had died. You kind of go through those steps of mourning, accepting what you've lost and what you have. Then you realize you've just taken a different path, and you find out there was probably a reason for this. At least I believe there is a reason for this."
As Andrew grew, Tabor realized her energetic and affectionate son may not be perfect, but then, no one is.
"He is sweet and lovable. He's like having joy and sunshine around," Tabor said of Andrew. "He's a lover. We go to the grocery store and he flirts up every grandma in the store."
Andrew has received physical, occupational, developmental and speech therapy through the Paul Bunyan Education Cooperative since he was 6 months old. This fall he started Early Childhood Special Education classes two days a week at Cuyuna Range Elementary School in Crosby. His speech is delayed, but for the most part Andrew is a healthy, active boy. He's learning sign language to help in his speech development and loves going to school.
Tabor learned about the National Down Syndrome Society's search for photos of Down syndrome children and adults from a Web site support group she is involved in. The photo of Andrew that will be featured in the video shows him with a big smile on his face while driving his toy truck taken when he was 17 months old.
Tabor will participate, along with "Team Andrew," a group of friends and family, in the annual Buddy Walk in New York City Sept. 29 and the Minnesota Buddy Walk Oct. 6 in Como Park in St. Paul.
"I don't look at it (Down syndrome) as being a handicap," said Tabor. "The biggest challenge with Andrew is keeping up with him. He runs like the wind."
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