The Advocate of the Year is awarded to one (1) self-advocate (adult with Down syndrome – older than 18-years-old), who is a community leader. The recipient is a person who gives to the community, through work or volunteering, and contributes meaningful change to people’s perceptions of disability and Down syndrome. This person shows their community how to “See the Ability.”
Every week, 26-year-old Jeremy Abramson plays hockey with the Special Hockey Heroes. He takes his job as an athlete seriously, bringing out the best in his teammates on the senior team with his passion and skills. He also takes his job as a role model seriously, mentoring the younger members on the junior team.
Jeremy has Down syndrome and is proud to inspire and support other people with Down syndrome. He is the 2016 Advocate of the Year at the Canadian Down Syndrome Society (CDSS), announced on World Down Syndrome Day (March 21, 2016). He will receive a $1000.00 bursary, which he can put towards tuition, use to fund a special project, or donate back to his community.
“He is my hero. He has been a great teammate in hockey. He is a lot of fun. He has Down syndrome like me,” wrote William Green, one of Jeremy’s younger teammates, in his nomination letter to CDSS. Jeremy was also nominated by William’s mother, Elizabeth, and Jeff Kelly, the president and head coach of the Special Hockey Heroes, which is part of the Ottawa Police Association.
Selected from nominations submitted from across the country, Jeremy contributes meaningful change to people’s perceptions of disability and Down syndrome. Off the ice, he volunteers and works with different groups, such as the Down Syndrome Association – National Capital Region. He has attended Algonquin College, lives independently, and is a doting partner to his girlfriend of five years, Jessie Huggett, who also has Down syndrome.
“My name is Jeremy Abramson. I am 26 years old. I am from Ottawa, Ontario.
For fun, I like to play hockey. I also like to write music and play my guitar and drums. I also like to dance.
I love spending time with my girlfriend and I love writing poetry to her.
I also love bodybuilding. I weight train for several hours, 4-5 days a week. I like to read about healthy bodies and healthy food and am now cooking many healthy recipes on my own.
I also spend time with my boyz (purposeful use of z) and my fam (family). They are important in my life. I love them so very much.
Right now I am in between jobs. I do landscape maintenance in the spring, summer and fall. I am hoping to build up a career as a fitness trainer. I am working with some clients to help them get in shape. ”
“I am not yet sure what I am going to do with the bursary. I am thinking of opening a gym to help others with starting their journey on living healthy lives.
Winning this award is still very new to me so want to discuss with others in our DS Force Advocacy group about what would be a good use of this money in our community before I commit to something.”
“It feels WONDERFUL knowing others think I am a great role model. Being nominated as a great role model is a great honor for me and means so very much to me. I love the amazing kids I coach in hockey. I think they have great potential. They are great hockey players and they rock! Especially you Will!
Thank you Will, Liz and Jeff for nominating me!”
“To be able to FOLLOW and LIVE their dreams like everyone else
Also get healthy and be more active so they can live healthier and longer lives.”
“I have achieved my first goals which were to get fit and live a healthy life; go to college: find a girlfriend; and move out on my own.
My next goals are:
-Live a “famous” life with my girl, Jessie.
-Continue body building.
-Become the next WWE World Heavy Weight champion.
-Be involved in sports entertainment.
-Travel around the world. And live my own legacy.”
““See the ability” means see the potential inside.
If you focus on people’s strengths (“abilities”) they will develop the confidence to achieve their dreams and have a successful life.
Trust the “ability” and they will continually surprise you with how far they can get in life. Everyone should be able to follow their dreams and get to where they want to in life.
SEE THE ABILITY MEANS: Go live on your own and follow/live your dreams.”
“(People with Down Syndrome) We “ROCK”
(People with Down Syndrome) We are “SPECIAL”
(People with Down Syndrome) We make a POSITIVE difference in the world.
Grow as a person and believe in yourself. You can make wonderful things happen for yourself and for those around you.
Keep fighting for the right to be treated like everyone else!
HAPPY WORLD DOWN SYNDROME DAY!”