Ohio-based photographer Erika Brooke has taken thousands of professional photos over the course of her career, but none could compare to the ones she took for the annual calendar for the Down Syndrome Association.
When she was invited to work on the project, Brooke was not aware of the impact that photoshoot would have on her life and her career.
7-year-old Joey, a boy with Down Syndrome, was mister December. When it was his turn to pose, he didn’t want to do it without his best friend Ellie, who has the same condition as him.
Brooke believed the photographs of the two best friends were so cute that she felt the urge to share them with her followers.
“In my 28 years of life, I am unsure I have ever seen a love this pure,” she wrote. “Chivalry isn’t dead and little Joey is walking proof,” she added.
When sweet Ellie was too afraid to walk near the water, Joey held her hand like a little gentleman. When he was supposed to smile for the photos but didn’t feel like smiling, Ellie tickled him.
“As I watched them interact I just thought to myself, ‘Wow. They already have it all figured out,’” Erika said.
“They are everything as children that I could ever hope to be as an adult. In that short hour, they encouraged me to be a better version of myself, to choose to see the good and to love a little more selflessly. If only we all saw the world as purely as Ellie and Joey do, what a beautiful world it would be.”
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According to what the kids’ parents told Love What Matters, the two were born six months apart and live in the same town.
Joey’s mom, Holly, said: “From our first get together to today, Joey and Ellie have a bond, as well as their families. We get each other’s struggles and triumphs. We consider each other family.”
Both Joey and Ellie have older sisters. He has thee, and she has two. Their sisters make sure they teach everyone at their school that those who have Down Syndrome are not any different than the rest of the students or any other child out there.
“I am not sure when it happened, but Joey began calling Ellie his girlfriend. He will tell us on a weekly basis that he is going to marry Ellie. We think this could work out nicely for all of us!” Holly said. “When they see each other outside of school, they immediately hold hands, hug and just look into each other’s eyes. It is as if they know something we do not.”
Whenever he’s supposed to meet his best friend, Joey brings a snack for her.
“Love is a beautiful thing, and watching them love and see the best in each other is simply easy for them. They are specially-abled, as we would say. They have no apprehension to show their feelings for each other,” Holly added.
“When Joey asks me why he cannot marry his sisters, I tell him, ‘Because you have to marry your best friend.’ He always responds, ‘Oh I am going to marry Ellie then!’ She is his number one gal.”
Joey and Ellie are a true inspiration.