The Voice of Ability Series

Cederberg - A sister talks about her brother's love


Matt Dugan, a member of Sacred Heart Parish in Colwich, with his sister Charissa Cederberg. (Courtesy photo)


The Voice of Ability
By Charissa Cederberg
Our family couldn’t imagine life without him. His smile, his love, and his ability to live a simple life is contagious.
Matthew Dugan is the oldest of five healthy children, and if you were to ask any of my siblings, we would all agree that Matthew is the best big brother any of us could ask for. Some of our favorite childhood memories are having him on the bench, in the dugout, or on the sideline at all our sporting events, always there to provide encouragement and help us crack a smile when we had our game faces on.
He had a shirt for every sibling’s team and would wear multiple shirts in one day. When all the kids were home, Matthew joined us in our outdoor activities. We played a lot of basketball in the driveway and would await Matthew’s big entrance as he ran outside in his Bishop Carroll basketball jersey ready to beat us in a game of Around the World.
He always made us laugh. Recently, we discovered all the practice in the driveway paid off as we got to switch roles and support Matthew at Special Olympics basketball.
Matthew has Down Syndrome but has never let his disability keep him from living a happy life and making other people’s lives better. Without knowing it, he teaches others about acceptance, treating others with respect, and overcoming setbacks.
Matthew has been an inspiration to me for his positive outlook on life and his strong faith. He sings at Mass even though he can’t read the words. He tithes every week, and loves starting family prayer.
Matthew was an inspiration behind my platform during my reign as Mrs. Kansas United States this past year, and I was lucky to share a special moment with him on stage.
When given the chance to speak on the microphone, the first and only words from Matthew were, “Love Jesus Christ!”
He is simple, he is loving, and he doesn’t forget what life is about. God blessed our family with an angel, and for this we will always be thankful.
Cederberg is Mrs. Kansas United States 2016. She and her husband, Austin, are members of Church of the Resurrection, Wichita.

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