Down Syndrome Doesn’t Keep Plano Boy From Getting Black Belt

By Melissa Newton, CBS 11 News

PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) – On Wednesday an 11-year-old Plano boy will achieve something many other kids his age have not. Eric Ford is receiving his black belt in Tae Kwan Do and he’s managed to accomplish the goal despite being born with Down syndrome.

“He does everything all the other students do,” explained Eric’s instructor John Drew, of Action Martial Arts in Allen. “He does his patterns, forms, board breaking, sparring.”

Eric, who also has Juvenile Diabetes, has been training at Action Martial Arts for the last four years. To date, his disability hasn’t stopped him from thriving in an athletic field few have mastered.

“I was kind of leery of knowing if it was the right fit or not,” said Eric’s mother, Anita. “He’s come a long ways from the first time he walked on the mat.”

Experts say achieving the level of black belt doesn’t come easy. “It takes a lot of practice, a lot of repetition, a lot of hours in the gym,” Master Drew said. “For Eric, it’s been a long journey and he’s done a great job.”

“They treated him as an equal from day one and that’s something I truly respect,” his mother said. ”He loves to come because he loves it, but he also loves to come because it’s unconditional love here.”

Eric is taking another major step on his journey. On Wednesday, at 5:45 p.m., he and several other students in his class are testing for their first-degree black belt.

While Eric is just relieved to finally reach his goal, his mother hopes her son will encourage others to strive for theirs. “I hope Eric is an inspiration to all individuals with Down syndrome. That’s always been something we’ve had to work around.”

Four years after that hard work began Anita says she’s glad she enrolled Eric in the program that has helped him grow physically and mentally. “I knew that it would also add so much to his life,” she said.

Interestingly, Eric’s mom and dad started taking Tae Kwan Do classes soon after their son began, but he holds the higher rank.


One Comment

  1. Lisa Fox-Soreff says:

    Eric Ford Rocks!!!!!

    1. Kelly Derouen Cole says:

      CONGRATULATIONS!! This is so inspiring for my children!! Im so proud of you Eric!

  2. Jennifer Andrick says:

    Super proud of him. I cannot wait until I celebrate this awesome achievement with my Allie! Truly an inspiration to all who know him. Way to go Eric!!!

  3. coretta says:


  4. Grandma ^ Grandpa Todd says:

    Great Going Eric. We are so proud of you and love you

  5. Aussie Texan says:

    Superb! Good on ya, Eric!

  6. Jeff says:

    Great job! Maybe my son will want to do this too.

  7. Ishan Amit Chhatbar says:

    Awesome ! Great achievement ! Way to go Eric !!!

  8. Susan says:

    Wow I am so proud of this story, my daughter is 12 years old and you give us all hope-Way to go!!! By the way we live in Plano also

  9. Hendawi Family says:

    Dear Eric, You inspire us all to go for our dreams. Thank you for teaching us that all is possible and a BIG THANK YOU to your famoly for sharing your life with us. Lots of Love and Congratulations!!! The Hendawi Family

  10. Markus Cormier, RN says:

    Congratulations Eric!!!! Great to see this update on you, we miss seeing you here back in New Orleans.

  11. Chad says:

    Congratulations Eric! Enjoy your accomplishment, you have worked hard for it!

  12. Bart Stewart, sr. says:

    I have know the Ford Family for many years and remember when Eric was born. Ed and Anita have done a wonderful job in raising him including him in many activities. Congratulations to Eric and to the Mother and Father behind this outstanding young man.

  13. Nancy Brown says:

    Wow, Eric! Your life is an incredible inspiration to everyone. Love and congratulations for a well deserved achievement, and love and congratulations to Ed, Anita and Mandy, too.

  14. The Calhoun Family says:

    Eric-You are truly an inspiration to us all. It would be difficult to make it through class without my personal cheering section pushing me on. Thank you for being a part of our lives. You and your family are such a blessing! Love you bunches.

  15. The Lefeuvre Family says:

    Congratulations Eric! You are an awesome young man.

  16. Karen Scallan says:

    Congrats also to Mom and Dad. Anita, I know how hard you all work with Eric and what a great family you have.
    Love you much!
    Karen Scallan

  17. TONY NOHMY and family says:


  18. Shauna Escott says:

    OMG! How wonderful is this!!!! Eric we are so proud of your strong, hard-working beaurtiful self:) CONGRATS on earning your black belt:) We are so proud of your mom and dad too!!!

  19. David P Eugster says:

    Eric, you are truly an inspiration to us all, and so are your parents and Mandy. Go for it!!!
    Dr. Ike

Comments are closed.

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