When you think of football, what comes to mind? Do you think of the athletes and the physicality needed to play the game? Or do you think about the hard work and determination teams put into training for a season? You probably wouldn’t think about a person with Down Syndrome playing football, scoring points for their team, and in the process, making history. But that is exactly what Hocking College football player, Caden Cox did.
Caden was born on June 7, 1999, with Down Syndrome. His parents, Mari and Kevin had learned their son would be born with Down Syndrome during an amniocentesis. Mari’s first reaction was to figure out what it meant. Down Syndrome is the most frequently occurring chromosome disorder in the United States, causing intellectual and developmental delays. It affects close to 6,000 children yearly. People born with this genetic disorder have an extra chromosome, chromosome 21. To represent the disorder, all of Caden’s football jerseys are number 21.
When Caden was little, his parents chose to focus on what Caden could do rather than what he couldn’t do. He always did everything his older brother did, but without the anxiety or stress that sometimes people put upon themselves. Mari said when Caden did things, he went all in never self-conscious or worried about peer pressure.
His parents enrolled him in martial arts at two, and it quickly became his therapy. Over the years, Caden has participated in many extracurricular activities. He has a second-degree black belt in Taekwondo, many Special Olympic Medals, 8 State of Ohio Medals in swimming, he played percussion in band and was instrumental in starting the Inclusion Club at York High School in Yorktown, VA.