This 21-year-old man with Down syndrome is continuously breaking barriers, and he has no plans of stopping. His latest feat? Landing a job at a popular nationwide delivery service.
Jake Pratt of Vestavia Hills, Alabama, recently added one more item to his growing list of accomplishments: securing a position at UPS as a package runner. Amy Hyde, his sister, first shared the joyful news on Twitter.
“Thank you @UPS for giving my brother a chance & promoting inclusion in the workforce. Jake has Down Syndrome but that doesn’t stop him!” she tweeted alongside a photo of Jake donning his work uniform and standing next to a UPS truck. “I’m so proud of him!”
In an interview with PEOPLE, Amy said that working for the delivery service “means everything” to her brother because he has always dreamed of living independently.
She also noted that he has achieved so much, but none of them would have transpired if not for the people who embraced him and gave him a chance.
“Jake is so worthy and capable, so it’s just awesome for others to be able to see that,” she added. “He has done a lot to break barriers and raise awareness that people with Down syndrome can accomplish anything they set their mind to.”
Jake’s Down syndrome diagnosis came as “a surprise” to the family. Amy recalled hearing a doctor say that her brother “would never be a functional member of society.”
The doctor said his condition would keep him from living a normal life and that he might even need to be put in an institution. But Jake and his family refused to accept that.
“My family has always embraced the philosophy that Jake is no different from you or I and that there are no limits on what he can accomplish,” Amy said.
She describes her sibling as a “loving, confident, funny, and hardworking” brother.
The young man has always exceeded expectations. Over the years, Jake has done many things that some people thought were impossible.
He joined his high school football team and even scored a touchdown in a game. He attended college, graduating from Clemson University’s LIFE program in the spring. He also got his driver’s permit and answered all the exam questions correctly.
If there was one person in the world who inspires Amy the most, it would be Jake.
“He never meets a stranger and loves everyone so purely. He makes all of our lives better and has taught me more than anyone else I know,” she said.
Jake’s latest feat was celebrated by his family and UPS itself.
“We are proud to have Jake on our team! Keep up the great work, Jake!” the delivery service company said in a tweet.
He’s not driving the truck, but he’s working up to eight hours a day running packages to customers’ doorsteps with a big smile. This is on top of his maintenance job at a golf course, where he works from 6-10 AM every day.
Jake has always valued his independence. He makes his lunch before each workday and places his clothes out. He also sleeps early, so he has enough strength to be his best self every day.
Jake is a goal-getter who has, time and time again, turned his dreams into reality. His entire family is excited to see what he accomplishes next.
Amy said that Jake is very passionate about sports, and he hopes to one day find a job being involved with a team or in the maintenance of their facilities.
He’s also saving up money for his future and is enjoying a thriving love life with his girlfriend Grace, who also has Down syndrome. She is a current student at Auburn University in its EAGLES program.
And being the ball-of-fire that he is, Jake is in for yet another milestone: he plans to propose to Grace as she nears graduation.
The young romantic has been setting aside a portion of his salary every paycheck for his girlfriend’s future ring.
“I have zero doubts that he won’t be able to continue to live out his dreams,” Amy said.
We’re sure that everyone who knows Jake and his story thinks the same. He has come so far, and we believe he’ll do more awesome things in the future!