How one disabled man inspired those around him—just by being himself.

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month and we’ve got a whole host of good stuff for you to check out, from webinars chock full of information to support independence to ways you can shop for good. You can even set up a fundraiser yourself to get in on the action. But first, here’s an inspiring story about a pair of brothers.

Earlier this year, we were given the incredible opportunity to spend some time with David and Adam Ragan. David is a NASCAR star and FOX Sports Analyst, and Adam, his older brother, is a disability advocate.

The brothers joined us to help launch our new name, AbleLight, by emceeing a special concert with Michael W. Smith. (You can still watch that, by the way.) They were total pros on the stage, but behind the scenes David also spoke beautifully about what it was like to grow up with a brother like Adam, who has Down Syndrome.

His story goes like this:

“When I was a kid, I just knew Adam as my brother,” says David. “It wasn’t until I was about 10 or 11 that I knew Adam was any different than me. But I think it was a lot more enriching to have a brother like Adam.”

Even though David was the younger brother, there were things he could do that didn’t come as readily to Adam. He remembers watching Adam struggle to learn to read, write, and use a computer.

But what David remembers more than anything is seeing how hard Adam worked to succeed.

“He was an inspiration to me,” says David. “Seeing that work ethic made me work harder and not be afraid.”

In fact, David credits his brother’s example as part of what got him to where he is today (with 100 NASCAR races under his belt, including dozens of top 10 placements, four first-place wins, and six poles, if anyone’s counting.)

“If there was a situation that I didn’t feel comfortable going into, I could remember when Adam was in those situations. And I’d think, ‘Adam wouldn’t be afraid to go and tackle this, or he would work a little harder to be able to get that.’ And that would give me motivation and inspiration to work hard and not give up and achieve my goals,” he says.

“And then even growing up into adults, Adam continues to still do those things—those things you think ‘hmm, maybe he can’t do that’—but then he does them. Like going to work, managing his finances, writing checks, having his own debit card, buying his own toiletries and things like that.”

Why do we love this story so much?

Not just because we love a good story of a person with developmental disabilities thriving. (Although it is true we can’t get enough of ’em.) But because we truly believe the world shines brighter when people with disabilities achieve their full potential, and Adam and David are such a shining example of that.

People with disabilities have so many gifts and talents to share with the world. They have lessons to teach and light to give. Like Adam who, just by being Adam, was an incredibly important role model and inspiration to his brother—and undoubtedly so many others in his life.

Learn more about our Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month activities.
Consider starting a fundraiser in support of people with developmental disabilities. It’s easy and takes only minutes.