When Andrew Bowman was named homecoming king of his high school, the honor was of course a huge moment for him and his family.
“I started crying and everyone was cheering and he was just beaming and smiling ear-to-ear," his mother Susan tells WSYR-TV. "He's had moments before, but this was just wow — his school, his peers."
"It was special," Bowman tells Syracuse.com. "It felt great."
But in truth, Bowman's big night last Friday was nothing particularly new — the 19-year-old senior at West Genesee High School in Camillus, N.Y. already sports a roomful of ribbons and trophies, the product of a calendar packed with commitments: Concert band drummer, actor in the school musical, singer in the chorus, and a rip roarin' swimmer.
Not to mention a robust course load that includes classes in physics, finance and careers, photography, art, band, and physical education.
Indeed, Bowman is living his life for all it's worth — and refusing to let Down Syndrome hold him back.
"You don't have to be the quarterback, you don't have to be the high honor roll student," Susan Bowman tells Syracuse.com.
Bowman's face has twice been shown on the buildings in Times Square for National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, Syracuse.com notes, adding that he received a state Assembly Excelsior Award of Excellence and has met several celebrities including former Gov. David Patterson.
"He is a classmate, a friend, a leader, and I would consider him to be the ambassador of change when it comes to total acceptance of everyone," West Genesee School District Superintendent Christopher Brown wrote in his blog, noting many reasons why Bowman's known as the "Mayor of West Genesee."
"He's so involved with the school, everyone knows him," says Maria Delany, 17, who was crowned homecoming queen and tells Syracuse.com that she's known Bowman since elementary school when they rode the bus together.
"They accept him in everything he does," his mother Susan says of Bowman's classmates, adding that football players crowded around to congratulate Andrew after he was named homecoming king and his computer and cell phone were on overdrive all night receiving well wishes.
Not that he had time to read them straightaway — Bowman was busy tripping the light fantastic at the homecoming dance that followed the football game.
That's not all. Bowman's also a Eucharistic minister and altar server at Holy Family Church, Syracuse.com notes, adding that he's expressed interest in the priesthood.
But not if the conductor bug gets him first. Last year he led the middle school chorus in a performance of "Sweet Music."
When this school year ends, Bowman will take the stage with his classmates at graduation. And while he'll receive a certificate rather than a diploma for the time being, Bowman — surprise, surprise! — isn't stopping there.
He'll attend another year at West Genesee as a "super senior," Syracuse.com reports, then move on to Onondaga Community College.
"That the sky is the limit — you can do whatever you want to do,” his mother Susan tells WSYR of Andrew's example.
"He's a beautiful person,'' said Delany.
Here's a report from WSYR-TV in Syracuse: