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Gifts : Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives

The Gifts Outreach program provides complimentary copies of Gifts to organizations which serve parents facing a new diagnosis of Down syndrome for their child, either prenatally or postnatally. We believe that the stories in the book provide a vital companionship and support for such parents.

2008 National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA): Gold Award

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Friday, February 01, 2008

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More on Brad Henfefer, aka B-Rad!

Amazing Man Gets TV Gig

Brad Hennefer, 19, of Cherry Hill, has many mementos that document his basketball and golf abilities.
Thursday, January 31, 2008

By CELESTE E. WHITTAKER
Courier-Post Staff

CHERRY HILL
The Hennefer family gathered in their cozy "golf" room Wednesday evening, downstairs in their Cherry Hill home. In one corner are prominently displayed newspaper clippings, a jersey encased in glass, trophies, medals and other items belonging to their son Brad.

They could not have imagined 19 years ago when Brad was born that today he would be a four-year member of the golf and basketball programs at Cherry Hill High School East, and a media darling to boot.

Brad, who was born with Down syndrome, and his parents, Nancy and Bob, and older brother Bobby are scheduled to appear on an upcoming segment of Good Morning America in New York, possibly as soon as Friday morning.

He is an example of a young man who has not let a disability get in his way of accomplishing great things.

"From a very young age, we made the decision that we were going to provide him with whatever opportunity that we could and assume that he could do things," said Nancy Hennefer, whose son started kindergarten in a regular class in the Cherry Hill school district. "We never went into anything with the attitude that he couldn't do it. We wanted to expose him to things and see what he could do.

"This is the thing: You have to let them try it. You have to give them the opportunity. Once you open up that door, he will walk through it. Cherry Hill East opened up that door for him."

Brad can't wait for his TV appearance.

"It's going to be great," said Brad, who had 15 points on five 3-pointers in a scrimmage against Rancocas Valley earlier this season and has made baskets in regular season games as well, including his team's final points in Tuesday's game against Washington Township and a 3-pointer against state powerhouse St. Patrick's. "My basketball team was great, my teammates, and coach (John) Valore, he's a good coach. He taught me well."

Bob Hennefer couldn't be more proud of his son, and also gives praise to the Cherry Hill East principal, teachers and coaches, namely Valore.

"John Valore has been remarkable, the way he teaches," Hennefer said. "We attribute everything to his teammates, his school staff, coaching staff. They've just been phenomenal. Thinking outside the box to create an opportunity for Brad. His teammates, they all treat him like he's family. It's just inspiring.

"We didn't think a lot of stuff was going to happen, but it's just about creating opportunities. Brad does well. He's a visual learner. He learns a lot from his teammates and he just keeps going. It's a tribute to the school and his teammates, what he's doing. His teammates also have learned a lot from Brad. They see it's a lot of hard work. We learn about stuff every day from Brad."

The family even started a foundation in Brad's name -- The Brad Hennefer Golf for Life Foundation.

The brochure says while many "junior" golf programs end at age 18, "we are committed to providing a lifetime of golf opportunities for individuals of all ages with Down syndrome."

Brad's older brother Bobby came downstairs to chat about his brother on Wednesday evening.

Bobby played collegiate golf at Franklin & Marshall and recently earned his PGA Tour card.

Not only did he let his little brother tag along with him at the golf course, but he's been his Special Olympics partner as well.

"I played sports all my life," Bobby Hennefer, 23, said. "Golf was one of the things I liked to do most. At a young age, I took him out to the golf course. He mirrored my swing, got to know it. I helped him out and he ended up being pretty good. We had a lot of fun. I'm extremely proud. This is awesome."

Said Brad Hennefer about making his national television debut: "I feel like I won't be nervous, but I'll be happy."

Reach Celeste E. Whittaker at cwhittaker@courierpostonline.com

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