COVINGTON, Ga. — A Newton County resident is about to make his return to Broadway.
This time, he's bringing someone with him.
And though his image has been on display there twice before as part of the national observance of Down Syndrome Awareness Month, this third time also will be a total surprise to him, his mother said.
A photo of Bradley Carlisle of Covington with his girlfriend, Grace Key of Cartersville, is set to appear as part of the National Down Syndrome Society's annual Times Square video presentation Saturday, Sept. 12, said Carlisle’s mother, Debbie Shadrix.
She and Key's mother, Carrie, are planning to surprise Bradley and Grace with the fact their photo is part of the video being livestreamed from New York City.
It will be among 500 photos in the video, which will be streamed from Times Square in New York City on the Society’s social media platforms, a news release stated.
Bradley and Grace both are active with the Down Syndrome Association of Atlanta — so much so it awarded him its Adult Advocate of the Year award and her the Young Adult Advocate of the Year award in 2018.
“They’re both very strong advocates,” Shadrix said.
Grace, 21, lives in Cartersville and operates a business selling T-shirts, Shadrix said.
Bradley's photo already has been featured twice in the annual national video presentation, his mother said.
The 30-year-old is an Alcovy High School graduate and lives independently in a Covington group home with two other men with special needs, said Shadrix, who lives in Conyers.
He also is a busy advocate for Down syndrome awareness. He has lobbied for disability rights legislation in Washington, D.C., helped organize a restaurant event staffed entirely by people with Down syndrome; and worked as an usher at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta.
The National Down Syndrome Congress this year awarded him its Christian Pueschel Memorial Citizen award for his advocacy work, and its Brandon Gruber Scholarship to help him pursue his dreams of performing on stage, his mother said.
Bradley and Grace met when they won their awards and subsequently started a new relationship, Shadrix said.
Unfortunately, they have not seen each other since early March due to safety concerns around COVID-19, but they talk every day using their phones’ FaceTime feature, she said.
Their awards in 2018 also led to their mothers renewing an old friendship.
Shadrix was able to reconnect with Grace's mother, Carrie, after first meeting in 1999 soon after Grace was born.
Bradley's mother was the on-call hospital support person for the Down Syndrome Association of Atlanta — providing information and encouragement to parents of children born with the condition. They met at what is now Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta near Emory University.
“I was the person who met with new families,” Shadrix said.
Because of the distance between her former residence in Covington and the Keys’ home in Cherokee County they never were able to find time to get together until reconnecting at the 2018 event, she said.
The video presentation is an annual tradition for the National Down Syndrome Society and its followers. It is set to include photos highlighting children, teens and adults with Down syndrome and seeks to highlight the contributions and milestones of people with the condition, said an organizer of the display.
“This video is a terrific way to showcase some of the incredible individuals with Down syndrome living in our communities across the country,” said Society President and CEO Kandi Pickard. “It is something the community looks forward to every year."
It will be followed by the New York City Buddy Walk, which will be done virtually due to COVID-19, a news release said.
The Society's Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/NDSS1979/. Its Twitter page is at https://twitter.com/NDSS; Instagram page at https://www.instagram.com/ndssorg/?hl=en; and YouTube channel's page at https://www.youtube.com/user/NDSSorg.
The two events kick off Down Syndrome Awareness Month in October, a news release stated.
The Atlanta Buddy Walk is scheduled for Oct. 31. For more information, visit https://www.ds-stride.org/atlantabuddywalk or call 404-320-3233.