Decked-out Jeep raising awareness of Down syndrome

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Debra Kruis’s Jeep isn’t like other Jeeps. It’s got a message for her son Tyler DeJohn and anyone else with Down syndrome.

“I want to be driving this Jeep down the highway and have someone say, ‘What is Down syndrome?'” Kruis said. “Even though it’s 2018, a lot of people don’t know what it is still.”

When DeJohn celebrated his 22nd birthday Tuesday, his mother surprised him with the decals added to the Jeep.

Her goal is to help others understand that Down syndrome doesn’t have to be viewed as a curse.

“They find out their child is going to have Down syndrome, they’re like, ‘Oh, no.’ It’s like a cloud over top of them and it doesn’t have to be. It’s been the most beautiful and most life changing. I wouldn’t want it any other way, ever,” Kruis said.

Extreme Graffix in Grand Rapids did the decal work, which was paid for by an anonymous donor.

“It’s a special project for her and it was going to be a special project for us,” project manager Kirk Heilman said.

His co-worker agreed.

“I think that’s the ones we really like diving into. It’s the ones not just a fancy design but actually means something to somebody,” Ryan Jones said.

The back of the Jeep says “I came from above,” summing up how much her son and everyone with Down syndrome mean to Kruis and her family.

“I don’t want people to look down, because he did come from above, and he’s been a blessing to me,” she said.

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