I believe in my younger brother. My brother has Fragile X Syndrome. It’s the most common inherited disability affecting 1 in 4,000 males and 1 in 6,000 females. Fragile X has caused my brother to be mentally impaired and therefore to perhaps never live up to his full potential, according to most standards of measurement. But my brother knows something that some people never realize. You see my brother loves unconditionally, no matter who you are, no matter where you are from, no matter what you have done my brother will never judge you. Growing up with him my friends would always tell me that I was lucky to have a brother that didn’t pick on me or steal my stuff or any of the usual younger brother tricks, and for a long time I will admit I thought they were wrong. But then my brother would come home from school with notes from teachers that Matt cried because someone else got into trouble. I realized quickly that my brother had incredible empathy for other people, and that this could potentially get him into trouble. What if he trusted the wrong person? So when my brother joined the high school football team as a manager I worried about rejection, about his own naivety getting in the way. But then of course he proved me wrong. The guys on the football team nicknamed him “cheesehead” because he at any one time at practice you could hear, “you cheesehead!” coming from the sidelines as my brother joked with the guys. The coach started calling him the spirit of the team, and on the front of their t-shirts for their winning season that year it says: “with hot sauce” because my brother started using that phrase when he was joking around. Now at Gull Lake High School you are not cool if you don’t know Matt. He may not go there anymore, he may have never actually received his diploma but he changed the entire outlook of a high school and their certainly aren’t many people who can say that. Just by being his caring and empathetic self my brother changed lives and I believe in his own unaware mission. But most of all, I believe in my brother as a person, not because he changed anyone else’s life but because he changed mine. I selfishly cling to the nickname “Sassy” that he gave me after the cat in the movie “Homeward Bound,” and I am proud to introduce myself as “Matt’s sister” to most of my small town in Michigan. I believe in my brother because he taught me everything I ever needed to know about life: to care when no one else does, to listen when no one else will, and to not be afraid to be yourself no matter what, even if that means you like calling people “cheeseheads.”
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