Editor’s Note: This is the second installment of a series on north Okaloosa County residents with Down syndrome.
CRESTVIEW — Life for Danny Parker is much like that for anyone else. He gets up, sometimes takes a spin on his four-wheeler, reports to work and comes home to his family.
Having Down syndrome hasn't deterred him, Parker's family members say. To his customers in the Wal-Mart garden center, he's another helpful employee.
"I never thought about it much," Paige Parker, his older sister, said. "There's five kids in the family and we didn't treat him any different than anyone else. He was aggravating at times and loving at times, just like any other brother."
Danny Parker has worked at Wal-Mart for 20 years, and is well known to many shoppers. With a restricted driver’s license, he is often able to drive himself to and from work.
"The customers love Danny," Paige said. "He has regular customers who come in and ask for him. Wal-Mart's been very good to them.”
Among the accomplishments that bring him the most pride is having worked hard to earn his black belt in taekwondo.
"It was awesome," he said.
Through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the 1993 Crestview High School alumnus did mission work in Tallahassee soon after graduation.
"I learned a lot, but there are things I could've done better," Danny said, reflecting on the months he spent away from his family.
Their brother's spirit sometimes inspires family members, Paige Parker said. Danny has begun a book project, compiling stories of his life shared by friends and family members.
It is tentatively titled after a comment he once made, she said.
"We do kind of joke about it," she said. "He told a doctor he used to have Down syndrome, but he grew out of it. 'I used to have Down syndrome.' It's no big deal to him."
"I'm as normal as anybody I know," Danny said.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.