LINCOLN COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Sydnie Tate is a very busy this week. And she's very excited. The 15-year-old is getting ready for Homecoming at West Lincoln High School next week. On Monday Sydnie was elected, Freshman Representative. When I asked her about what she loves about West Lincoln Sydnie said, "My teachers, and all my friends!"
I talked to her mom, Angie, about the moment Angie got the news. "I noticed I had five missed calls from school. But her teachers left two voicemails, and they said 'There is nothing to worry about…but please call us back.' So I did and of course I was just so excited for her," Angie said.
Full disclosure here, I know Angie, her husband Darin, 15-year-old Sydnie and her younger sister, 11-year-old Saylor. I met the family three years ago at the Buddy Walk for the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Charlotte at Freedom Park. They gave me refuge from a hot October sun under their tent. I was immediately impressed by their attitude about Sydnie's Down syndrome.
"We have the best of both worlds. We have a typical child, Saylor, and non-typical child, Sydnie. We chose to look at the ABILITY, not DISability. We chose to see her for who she is, not for the Down syndrome. Down syndrome does not define her, it's just a small part of who she is," Angie told me. People with Down syndrome have 47 chromosomes instead of 46.
Sydnie is like any typical teenager, one month she likes One Direction, the next, not so much! There was a brief crush on Nick Jonas, but he's not so cool to her anymore. Something that is different about Sydnie, and probably why she got so many votes, she's got a wide open heart for ALL people. She has loads of friends, and she loves, more than anything, to make people laugh. Most of all, her mom says, she wants her friends to be happy. "Maureen, she genuinely cares about them," Angie told me.
To her parent's credit they have never treated Sydnie differently. I've witnessed this over the years. They've raised her to believe in herself. When she started the school year I remember Angie telling me that, like every year, they prayed over their girls. But this was a big transitional year, Sydnie was going to high school, Saylor to middle school.
From day one of the school year, Angie says, "It has been unbelievable. "This entire school year has been phenomenal. She has two home base teachers, Jason Kester and Jayme Farmer who are just amazing. The other day, I was talking to her teacher Jayme planning for events around homecoming, and Jayme said of Sydnie, "I love that girl, she's already changed my life!" Angie says, "This flooded my heart with so much joy!"
Sydnie was nominated by Jayden Drewery. Jayden, who is in 11th grade, and Sydnie became fast friends at the beginning of the school year. When Sydnie told her mom she wanted to go for it, Angie explained the voting process, and there was a chance someone else would win, but Angie never doubted that it was a real possibility for her child.
"Why would it not be her? Why could she not be the example we've always wanted her to be. Our life is just as normal as anyone else's. Basically it's a normal life, she's done everything she wanted to do, she might do it differently, it might take a little longer to accomplish, but she does everything kids her age do. We've never wanted her treated differently," Angie said.
The Tates often hear the phrase, "God gives special children to special families." Angie doesn't really agree with that. "We are not any more special than anyone, not that we could handle it any more than anyone else. We see it like this. God gave Sydnie to us as a gift, our gift to Him is to raise her as He would have us," she said.
As for Homecoming week, it's going to be busy, parades, talent shows, and of course the football game next Friday night. Right now, like any teenager, Sydnie has to find just the right shoes for her dress, the perfect sweater, in case it's chilly. And she's got a week of schoolwork as well. "She's a hard worker, and we are so proud that she's on track to get her diploma. This is just another beautiful chapter in Sydnie's life. We never expected this journey, as the saying goes, but we love our tour guide!"