Boy with Down syndrome crowned homecoming king at Papio-LV South - Omaha.com
Published Monday, September 23, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 6:29 pm
Boy with Down syndrome crowned homecoming king at Papio-LV South

Jacob Gehringer, a boy with Down syndrome, was crowned homecoming king Friday night at Papillion-La Vista South High School.

A capacity crowd erupted wildly at the election of Gehringer, 18, whose crowning took place during a ceremony on the football field at Papillion-La Vista's Foundation Field.

The announcement brought some in the crowd to tears.

Gehringer and the homecoming queen, Adyson Goodnight, 17, took the traditional chariot ride following their selection.

It was a touching milestone for the school that opened in 2003, where officials say acceptance is ingrained in the culture.

Gehringer's mother said the inclusive environment at Papio South was a big factor in his nomination.

Classmates got to know her son because they grew up alongside him. He takes the same classes as they do, plays cymbals in the band and is on the bowling team.

His mother said inclusion benefits his classmates, too, opening their eyes to the potential of people with intellectual disabilities.

The students elected him king from among eight boys nominated.

His mother, Denise Gehringer, works part-time as a commons manager for Gross High School.

She is also program coordinator for the nonprofit Ollie Webb Center Inc., which supports and advocates for people with developmental disabilities.

His father, Jeff, works in information security for First National Bank.

Jacob Gehringer has three older brothers: Joel, 27, Adam, 24, and James, 21.

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of a particular chromosome, according to the National Down Syndrome Society.

One in every 691 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome, the society says. Approximately 400,000 Americans have Down syndrome, and about 6,000 babies with Down syndrome are born in the United States each year.

Denise Gehringer said a lot of school districts have taken steps toward inclusion, but Papillion-La Vista has taken the extra step of including special education students to the greatest extent possible in the regular curriculum.

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