Down syndrome triathlete tells UN that faith inspires him

Catholic triathlete

Just before his first speaking engagement at the UN, a young Catholic triathlete spoke to a television news outlet about his faith.

“I am Gabriel, God’s messenger,” 22-year old Gabriel Cobb told OSV News.

Cobb, pictured with his parents just before going into the UN New York conference hall added: “My faith is the most important part of my life. I like to attend Mass daily and proclaim loudly.”

He was set to address a UN gathering of advocates for those with Down syndrome and autism. They were discussing the challenges families face when they are raising children with different developmental expectations and milestones.

“Gabriel is not a professional speaker, but somehow God thinks he has a message to share,” his mother Lori Cobb told OSV News.

The family stopped by nearby St Agnes Church on the way to the UN building, she added.

“After all, I am Gabriel, God’s messenger,” Gabriel reiterated.

At the UN meeting, experts on Down syndrome and autism made some of the first speeches.

One spoke about “international agreements” which “reaffirmed that persons with disabilities are equal in dignity and rights.

“Governments should strive to provide social protection measures to families which are primarily responsible for the development, educational and well-being of children with autism and Down syndrome, and very often remain their main sources of social protection,” she said.

Cobb’s speech highlighted the role his family played in his life.

“I have two loving parents who have always kept the ball high,” he told the UN.

As the Catholic triathlete spoke, a screen of photos played over his right shoulder. He explained each photo: doing chores with his father; playing piano and reading books with his mother. The books include William Shakespeare and Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.”

Other photos showed him swimming, biking and running.

Then he told the UN he is a triathlon athlete, competing in races in which he has to run, swim and bike. He’s a repeat triathlete too – he’s competed in ten races so far.

“I have done it, I am a triathlete,” he exclaimed, to loud applause.

Cobb vowed “to continue to … compete” and he thanked the “coaches, family and friends, who have encouraged me to press boundaries”.

With the vow he added a prayer: “I pray that I have given them joy and inspiration, because with their help, I have Down syndrome and I have no limitations.”


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , , , ,