I first met Evan Sneider on day one of nursery school in Wayland, Massachusetts. We instantly became friends, and to this day, I’m proud to say that we still are.
Whether in nursery, elementary, middle or high school, what struck me most about Evan was his awareness of his Down Syndrome condition, and his sheer determination to never stop him from achieving what he wanted. In his many speeches given for the “Just Like Me” program, he’s repeated to crowds that he “doesn’t have Down Syndrome…he has Up Syndrome!"
Evan embodies everything you look for in a role model. He is genuinely kind and greets everyone with a loving smile. He is a committed friend who makes a point of being there for the biggest moments in your life. And he’s overcome all types of obstacles in pursuit of his dreams…and has done so with great success.
In fifth grade, Evan and I were casted as Fagin’s Boys in our school play, Oliver. We sat next to each other throughout the entire "production.” I frequently messed up my dance moves and the two lines I had, but Evan nailed everything assigned to him, and embraced every second of the experience. He was hooked - he loved drama and wanted to make it a constant in his life.
He participated in countless school and community plays, and always did so with a professional approach, no matter how big or small the role. It may have been a fun hobby to some, but it was a job to Evan. He saw it as his future, and he was right.
In 2010, Evan did what many deemed impossible and starred as the lead actor in the acclaimed independent film, GIRLFRIEND. He bedazzled theater critics, fans on the red carpet at various film festivals and press, all fighting to grab a photo of the rising star. Although he shared the big screen with established actors such as Amanda Plummer, Shannon Woodward and Jackson Rathbone from the Twilight movies, it was clear that this was Evan’s show, and he absolutely stole it!
While myself and my high school classmates looked on as the social media frenzy took place surrounding Evan, there was nothing to do but smile. Smile because we all remember Evan insisting on enrolling in regular classes, as opposed to special education for those with disabilities. Smile because we remember him proudly strutting into our prom with the pretty girl he liked on his arm. And smile because we’ll always remember the 5 minute standing ovation he received when his name was called on graduation day. We all knew he was going places and would never settle for anything less than the big things he had planned for himself.
We are proud to salute activist, actor, and one of my oldest friends, Evan Sneider as our STATE Role Model of the Week - a guy who has truly put the up in down syndrome!