Malachi, 12, and Elijah, 11, are brothers who are changing the way people see disability. The two boys, both of whom were adopted by Erin and Josh Horton, have Down syndrome. Because of their potential developmental delays and the stigma that still surrounds their condition, their mom says they wanted to ensure the boys learned real-world skills to set them up for success. With this goal, the family, who live in Poplar Grove, Illinois, launched Two Fresh Brothers, which sells homemade car air fresheners called “freshies.”
Erin told a local news program that featured the family’s story, “We’ve always wanted the kids to have their own business. We thought it would be a great opportunity to learn skills not taught in a classroom.” Lessons in hard work and paydays came early, as the freshies have sold out quickly after the launch of each sale on the Two Fresh Brothers Facebook page. Their mom said, “I remember when we told Elijah he had a paycheck and that people bought what he made, he wanted a Cheesy Beef from Arby’s. That was his jam.”
On the business’s Facebook page, Horton has shared updates about the launch of the freshies business and the work the boys do. She wrote in one post, “The boys did an amazing job with the tasks they were given and made huge gains towards being able to do some of the processes independently. The skills they are learning will open so many doors for them in the future. So thank you again for supporting our small business, in doing so you are creating opportunity.” The boys help with everything from weighing and measuring, adding scent, signing thank you notes to customers, and addressing and shipping their packages. Gradually, they are each learning to do more aspects of the work without assistance, developing skills that will serve them well in the work force, whatever the boys decide to do.
In her closing thoughts on the news segment about her sons, Erin said, “You work so hard…you pour everything into what they’re doing, and to see them doing things on their own, it’s a pat on the back.” She added, “We want them to have the choice to do what they want. They may do things different, but they’re normal human beings who want to be loved, to be liked and have fun.”
When Erin shared the news story with the Two Fresh Brothers social media following, she wrote, “We are so thankful to have an opportunity to share a little bit of our heart and why we believe so strongly in the boys and their ability to make their own choices and create the lives they desire. We refuse to allow them to be defined by their diagnosis or the stereotypes that come with it.”
Despite the many success stories of people with Down syndrome, babies who are diagnosed prenatally with Down syndrome are still targeted for death by abortion. This ongoing, lethal discrimination has led to nations that have attempted to kill every single child with Down syndrome, sending the message that people who are different are not welcome.
For many parents facing a Down syndrome diagnosis, there is often little hope offered. Misguided doctors often provide worst case scenario predictions and paint a grim picture that does not resemble what life is really like with Down syndrome for so many. More importantly, these predictions ignore the child whose life is at stake. The unique child, who has the Right to Life, is not made less human by a genetic condition.
Malachi and Elijah’s story of learning to run a business from their dining room table is a powerful tool for changing the culture. Beyond the job skills and independence they are gaining, they are showing the world what is possible when people with a disability are given a chance. Instead of being killed violently in the womb, these boys were adopted into a loving family and are growing to their full potential.
Malachi and Elijah should not be the exception. Every child with a potential disability deserves the Right to Life. That is why Texas Right to Life is spearheading efforts to pass the Preborn NonDiscrimination Act (PreNDA). Every child deserves protection in the womb.