Allan is a 30-year-old man who has committed his life to serving his local Down syndrome community. He is on the Board of the Halton Down Syndrome Association (HDSA) and has started his own group for adults with Down syndrome called “The Graduates.”
Allan was nominated by Heather Wray, a fellow member of the HDSA Board. With the Heroes grant, Allan plans on using it to help start HDSA’s first Buddy Walk.
“Allan is an amazing young man. I feel lucky to know him. As the parent of a young child with Down syndrome, I hope my daughter’s future is as bright as Allan’s.”
– Heather Wray.
An Interview with Allan:
Tell us about yourself!
My name is Allan Martin McNeill. I am 30-years-old. I have a big family, four sisters and one brother, all married, and many nieces and nephews. I have a girlfriend. I live with my parents in a condo. I work at Whiting Group Canada. I like it there and want to stay there until I retire. I have been a Scout leader for 12 years and will be a camp chief this spring. I enjoy being with the other Scouters. I enjoy music, dancing, singing and sometimes one beer.
You have started your own group called “The Graduates” for the adults with Down syndrome in your community. What inspired you to do that?
The HDSA had no programs or activities just for our adults who have Down syndrome. So I wanted to start a group for all graduates of high school and older. I asked a friend of mine to be our advisor and we asked a few adults to form the planning group. We meet at my house and plan events. There are 36 graduates in the HDSA. I call and email them to come out to events, such as Valentine’s and Christmas parties, hikes, Zumba, a nutrition and food class, and a movie night. We help out at large HDSA gatherings and fundraising activities. We enjoy being together. Organizing this has been a lot of work.
Why did you join the Board of the HDSA? What have you learned from being on the Board?
The HDSA board wanted a adult who has Down syndrome on the board. I put my name in and was elected. I represent the Graduate Group on the board. I have learned about all the things the board provides for the HDSA members. I learned to listen and contribute.
You have been called a great role model for young people with Down syndrome. How does that make you feel? Why is it important for you to be a role model?
I want to be a good example to our younger members and give parents encouragement. It makes me feel proud to be a role model.
To you, what does it mean to be a called a Hero?
To me to be a hero means overcoming hard things in life. When I was little I overcame leukemia. I worked hard to learn to read, write and do math, which I am still working at, and other skills like taking the bus. I am happy having Down syndrome and making people smile
Who are your heroes?
I have many heroes in my life. The first are my parents, who are married over 50 years, my brother Frank, my sisters, my girl friend, my teachers and many friends who all believe in me and encourage me.
What is your one wish for the future for people with Down syndrome?
To be happy inside and know they belong to God, who loves them the most.
What inspires you to be a Hero?
I always want to do my best in everything. Does that make me a hero?
What is your message for your friends, family, and anyone else who has supported you?
A great big thank you! I would not be the person I am today without them. For Heather Wray, it was a big surprise that you nominated me! Wow! Thank you, thank you! I will have to be extra good now!