Community celebrates man with Down syndrome on his birthday with drive-by parade | KOB 4

Community celebrates man with Down syndrome on his birthday with drive-by parade

Kai Porter
Created: May 09, 2020 08:56 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —Unfortunately we can’t celebrate big life events together these days. Graduation ceremonies, weddings, and big birthday parties are all on hold.

But it was still a birthday to remember for an Albuquerque man with Down syndrome who was reminded just how much he means to his community.

More than a hundred cars lined up along Spain Road northeast Saturday morning. Several officers with the Albuquerque Police Department also showed up with sirens blaring.

It was a drive-by birthday parade for Smith Weber Sandager, who turned 38.  

 “I feel happy,” he said.

 Smith couldn’t have a regular birthday party because of the coronavirus, but this was a different kind of celebration he’ll never forget.

“A lot of honking a lot of fun stuff to get,” he said.

 When you meet Smith you’ll know why so many people took the time to drive by and wish him a happy birthday.

“Smith was born with Down syndrome but the low expectations people set for him, he’s exceeded every one,” said his mom, Susie Sandager. “He’s an amazing child. He’s just very intelligent. He’s working on his reading. He plays the piano. He’s learning to play the piano. He can play happy birthday.”

“The Down syndrome people generally speaking are pure of heart,” said his dad, John Sandager. “Their innocence is refreshing, and they’re a wonderful part of our society. They’re not less than people. They’re special, wonderful people that our world would be less if we didn’t have them.”

Smith is a ballroom dancer and is also active in the Special Olympics.

He shares his birthday with family friend, Jerry Monk.

The two met at church and celebrate their birthdays together every year.

“There are so many things that I envy about Smith,” Monk said. “The guy can dance. He’s a tremendous dancer. He has moves that a lot of people don’t, have moves. He plays the drums. He pays the tambourines. But the greatest thing about Smith Weber is his heart. He has a heart that’s bigger than Albuquerque. He has a great heart.”

 It was clear by the turnout just how much joy Smith brings to the lives of his friends, family, and loves ones in the community.

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