Different Kinds of Smart: My Friend Stony, and his Down Syndrome Genius and Gifts
Updated: Apr 13
In honor of World Down Syndrome Day last week, I’d like to take a moment to share about one of my dearest friends, who has Down syndrome, Stony Pool (he should be famous based on his name alone!).
I have been friends with Stony for 18 years. The first time we met, he chased me around his cousin’s dinner table with a pocket knife because I made fun of his favorite WWE wrestler.
We’ve been friends ever since.
At his cousin’s wedding a few years and many misadventures later, he stood up to give a speech. He gave a speech about his cousin, Jimmie, who is my best friend, and his wedding. He ended his approximate 12-minute monologue by stating that when he gets married, “Mark will be my best man!”
Best man, a term we’ve referred to each other as ever since.
I remember Stony’s brother, Cory, another close friend of mine, showing me a poem he wrote about Stony when he was in 3rd grade. In it, he posed the question: “Why do they call it ‘Down syndrome’, when you bring everybody ‘Up’?”
A great question. Have you ever met an individual with Down syndrome who didn’t make you smile inside-out in a larger-than-life manner, or laugh profusely at their uncanny sense of humor and perspective on the world?
Stony is what I like to call a “different kind of smart.” He can match every NFL team with the city they play in. He can tell you exactly which wrestler every WWE wrestler is feuding with at the next pay-per-view. And, he always, always remembers my birthday, but only because it’s the only time I’ll let him get away with calling me an “old fart”
But perhaps the most resounding demonstration of genius I’ve witnessed from Stony was about 12 years ago, when his grandpa was in hospice. Stony, his brother, Cory, his cousin, Jimmie, and I were visiting him. He was unconscious and his time was drawing nigh. We all sat there somber and silent until we all stood up to leave. As we prepared to walk out of the room, knowing we were seeing Lyman for the last time, Stony threaded our hands together, bowed his head, and said, “Pray.”
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