Even on a bitingly cold January morning, 47 year old Michael Downs can still be found breaking a sweat in aerobics classes at the Stephens Family YMCA in Champaign. It has become a regular destination for him over the past several years as he works to achieve an important goal of helping his son stay mobile.
Down’s son Jack has cerebral palsy, resulting in him needing to use a wheelchair. For most of his life, Michael has been able to lift Jack and help him with everyday tasks such as dressing and bathing. However, as this 12 year old continues growing, it is becoming an ever increasing struggle to help him without unintentionally getting injured.
“You can hurt yourself about ten different ways I have found dealing with a child like Jack or a young man like Jack.” Says Downs
It is the reason that Michael has made it his mission to strengthen his muscles so that he is better able to lift Jack as he continues to grow. Additionally, he wants to lose weight in 2017 in order to be able to better care for him.
“My goal now is to strip some of the weight off and when I’m lifting him my back is not lifting 265 pounds plus his 75. As he gets bigger I want to get a little bit smaller so we even that out.” Says Downs
Now, both father and son have been hitting the gym each day in order to move closer to their goals. For them, it is about more than just losing weight or getting fit, it is about being able to do things together for many years to come.