Lots of things are impossible for my brother Ben. But this week he met his hero.

Today is World Down Syndrome Day, a day for raising awareness and funds to support individuals with Down syndrome, their families and carers. With appropriate health and education services and the right support and opportunities, people with Down syndrome can look forward to long and fulfilling lives. We hear from Maddy, sister to Ben and long time supporter of Down Syndrome Victoria.

On Saturday my brother Ben, who has Down syndrome, met Arnold Schwarzenegger.

To say Arnie is Ben’s hero is an understatement. Not a day goes by when Ben doesn’t interminably chant Arnie’s name or interject at random with the words “Terminator” or “Predator” — actually, these are timely reminders that a Schwarzenegger movie marathon is probably (definitely) overdue.

To say Arnie is Ben’s hero is an understatement. (Image supplied.)

For years now, friends and family have followed Ben’s love affair with Arnie with enthusiasm and support. I once wrote a letter to him on Ben’s behalf, detailing the profound effect he has had on all of our lives.

Aside from being his favourite action hero, Arnie has wielded a positive influence on Ben’s vocabulary and conversation skills, he’s also inspired him to stay fit and strong. Ben works out at the gym twice a week to get big muscles “just like Arnie”.

When the news spread that Arnie would be in town to attend a special event for Futsal Oz, we jumped at the opportunity for Ben to finally meet his idol. Many were brought to tears upon hearing his dream had finally come true.

While Ben was a little startled by the experience, Arnie greeted him with warmth and kindness as they shook hands (and compared muscles, obviously).

This year is a big year for our family. Not only has Ben met Arnie, but he will soon turn 30. It’s also the year we’ll learn about the delivery of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), which will effect his care for the rest of his life.

Ben brings people together. He incites compassion and understanding like no one else. But this is not his purpose.


He was not born to teach life lessons or unify a community; he is not a blessing nor a gift. He is a person. A person with rights and needs that aren’t always met, and we must not forget this.

So, on World World Down Syndrome day, I ask that you donate, to help people like Ben.

attends the Seoul Premiere of 'Terminator Genisys' at the Lotte World Tower Mall on July 2, 2015 in Seoul, South Korea.
When the news spread that Arnie would be in town we jumped on the opportunity for Ben to meet his idol. Source: Getty

As for Mr Schwarzenegger, on behalf of Ben, I’d like to thank you for doing what you do. I wish you all the best in your advocacy for health and fitness, and we eagerly anticipate the next instalment of the Terminator series.

Ben lives in Melbourne, Australia. He loves action movies and car magazines. His favourite film is Terminator II, but other top picks are Predator, The 6th Day, Last Action Hero and True Lies.