Andrea, a champion of life

Andrea is the real protagonist of her life. At 27 years of age, she is a two-time Spanish karate champion, works in an international company and participates in her Charismatic Renewal group. Her Down syndrome has not prevented her from doing anything because she was born, as her mother says, "to break down barriers". 

Arsenio Fernández de Mesa-May 30, 2023-Reading time: 3 minutes

Juanjo and Beatriz have been married for 37 years. They have two daughters: Olga, 28, and Andrea, 27. In Seville, the city where they lived for two years for work reasons, Andrea was born with Down syndrome and a very severe heart condition. In her first six months of life she underwent three heart surgeries: "It was tremendous, we were alone."says Beatriz. As time went by, they realized that there was always someone protecting them. Andrea was baptized when she was one and a half years old in the barracks of the Santa María de Caná parish in Madrid: "We added Mary to Andrea's name because we were aware that she was going to need a lot of help from Our Lady."his mother confesses to me.

At the beginning, Andrea had many health problems, including several pneumonias and a cardiorespiratory arrest. She caught everything, "did not deprive himself of anything". He began his education and training at the María Corredentora special education school. His mother, Beatriz, emphasizes that "the education he has received has been fundamental in his development as a person".. Andrea has always enjoyed being a protagonist and not a supporting actress in life: she even appeared on the cover of the newspaper ABC nationally in relation to the defense of special education, which is under attack by the Celáa Law.

With the support of the foundation Prodis arrived at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and there she obtained her own degree for the labor inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities. Through a job placement program, she started working in the human resources area of the company. Accenture. He has been there for four years "and is integrated and valued. She is an important pillar within her work environment.".

Andrea has always been very restless and sporty. Down syndrome has never prevented her from doing the same things that other children did: rhythmic gymnastics, paddle tennis or basketball. But she found her true passion in karate. Her mother tells how this discovery happened after seeing the film Karate Kid ten years ago.

Her father took her to the karate club; they had never had any students with Down syndrome before. Her coach said it was a challenge and encouraged her to start. And Andrea has become the first woman with Down syndrome to get the black belt in the Community of Madrid in 2019. She was champion of Spain in 2022 and is the current champion of Spain in 2023 in her category K-22. Recently, in the European Karate Championships, being the first time she competed at international level, she was bronze medalist.

Protagonist and healthy nonconformist. Andrea has the thorn in her side of not being able to play soccer, which she loves. Although she doesn't play, she follows it passionately. Andrea is a regular at the Santiago Bernabéu with her father. Music and painting complete her hobbies. She is a very restless, awake and excited person. She likes to participate in the Sunday Mass choir at St. Mary of Cana parish. She is a fan of the Carisas she calls the Charismatic Renewal group. "She is cheerful, outgoing, very empathetic. Family life revolves around her, she really likes to be the protagonist."his mother tells me cheerfully. 

Olga, her older sister, is the other gift of the family. The two have always had a special complicity and understanding between them. Her parents attribute a lot of responsibility for all of Andrea's progress to her. Looking back, Beatriz says that Andrea "it's a miracle, because it was unthinkable, in the first months of life, when I was in the ICU so many times, to believe that I could make it this far.".

When Andrea was born, her parents did not know anything about Down syndrome and they have been learning all the time. There is one clear motto in their lives: "Never give up.". In those first months in which they suffered and asked themselves many questions, they were greatly helped by the words of a priest: "There is not always a why but there is always a wherefore."

"Andrea came to break down barriers, to make us better people and to value what is really worthwhile in life and thus realize that the Lord loves us and cares for us." his mother says excitedly. And also "to help many other young people with Down syndrome who have come after her and found a path already made.".

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