Many people know Jamie Foxx as an Oscar-winning movie star and Grammy-winning musician. In a recent interview with Today, Foxx let viewers into a beautiful part of his personal life: his love of family, especially his sister DeOndra Dixon. Today correspondent Kate Snow describes DeOndra as a “vibrant, fun-loving 33-year old” who “also happens to have Down syndrome.”
October marks Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and the interview with Foxx and his sister is a great reminder of the dignity of every human being. As Foxx says of DeOndra, “I’m her big brother, and it’s like it doesn’t change just because she has special needs. She’s still my little sister.”
DeOndra moved to her brother’s sprawling mansion outside Los Angeles following her graduation from high school in 2002. Foxx has helped several family members move closer to him after his career took off, but he says his sister was special. He told Today, “But DeOndra was the main purpose. I didn’t know what she was going to have to do as far as fending for herself and becoming an adult.”
When asked what he has learned from his sister, Foxx didn’t hesitate to say, “I learned how to live. Sometimes we get caught up in our world on the extras of everything — ‘Ah, the Mercedes is not the right color!’ And then you see this girl over here. ‘I just want to live. I want to dance. I want to love.’ She brings you back down to what life is.”
According to Foxx, DeOndra has always been that way. He told Today, “DeOndra has a light on that has been on since she got here… since she was born.” Foxx, who is eighteen years older than DeOndra, remembers the day she was born well. He says his family didn’t know a lot about Down syndrome and has always treated her like a typical child. Foxx says his mother “was smart in immediately keeping her normal…. ‘Hey, you want to be in the choir, you wanna do this, you wanna do that? Go do it!’”
So, living with her famous brother in LA, that is exactly what DeOndra continues to do. Whether appearing in star-studded music videos or walking the runway for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation each year, or just having a dance-off with her brother at home, DeOndra shows how normal and happy life with Down syndrome can be. Her condition doesn’t define her.
The Global Down Syndrome Foundation president and co-founder, Michelle Sie Whitten explained to Today, “People with Down syndrome really can have an amazing life.” In talking about DeOndra’s success and happiness, Whitten notes, “She’s got a brother who loves her, she’s got a great family, she does interesting things, she has things to look forward to — just like a typical person.”
DeOndra’s life is such an encouraging example for parents with a child who has Down syndrome. And yet, although individuals with Down syndrome have unprecedented opportunities in education, career choice, and life, increased prenatal screening and testing has resulted in alarming abortion statistics for babies diagnosed with the chromosomal condition.
In addition to the prevailing stigma surrounding Down syndrome, anti-Life groups openly advocate that every child with Down syndrome should be aborted. This deadly discrimination targets innocent and defenseless preborn babies for death solely because of their disability. Some countries, like Iceland, are reaching the point of killing almost every single child with Down syndrome through aggressive prenatal screening and abortion.
People who push for discriminatory abortions to end the lives of babies with Down syndrome are saying that people like DeOndra—and Stephen, Lucas, and Madeline—should not exist. We can do better. As a society, we can affirm that every single person should be given a chance to live life to the fullest. Share this story!