“I am a man with Down syndrome, and my life is worth living.”
Those words were part of the heartfelt speech delivered on Capitol Hill by Frank Stephens, an advocate for those with Down syndrome.
In his powerful testimony delivered last month, Stephens, a Quincy Jones Advocate at the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, argued that Congress should increase the budget for medical research for Down syndrome and compared prenatal screens that identify the condition in the womb to “final solutions.”
“I was not usually nervous, but I was that day,” Stephens later told InsideEdition.com. “I’m a little annoyed that I stuttered as much as I did, but pleased that the committee really seemed to listen.”
He explained many researchers believe there is a connection between Down syndrome and tumors, cancers, Alzheimer’s and even immune disorders.
“For the last two decades, the federal government spending with research benefiting people with Down syndrome has plummeted or been flat and that is not OK,” Global Down Syndrome Foundation President Michelle Sie Whitten told InsideEdition.com.
But, Whitten said she believed his goal to get more research funding for the cause succeeded.
“When Frank spoke before this powerful congressional committee, he literally received a standing ovation,” Whitten said. “Frank’s testimony made the lack of research funding incredibly personal and beyond inspirational.”
As for Stephen, he said he was happy to be in the limelight for a good cause.
“I am a big ham. I love every bit of the attention,” he explained. “Really the response has been fantastic. The video and audio of my testimony has gone viral over the internet. It’s causing people to think about Down syndrome and that’s a good thing.”