She Hated How People Looked at Her Brother With Down Syndrome—Now She’s Fighting Back With These Punny T-Shirts

A clothing company based out of Miami is empowering people with disabilities. The line was inspired by a sister’s love for her brother with down syndrome.

In 1986, Cynthia’s brother changed her life. Chris Gay was born with Down syndrome.

Since that day, she has made it her life’s work to change the lives of people with disABILITIES everywhere. She says Chris has been her inspiration from day one.

Jose Bowles was working as a volunteer at Best Buddies International when he met 34-year-old Chris. 

They didn’t know it at the time, but their meeting was not by mistake. Jose ended up falling in love with Chris’ sister, Cynthia.

Together, their love for Chris inspired a clothing line named after the year he was born—1986.

The company, 1986 Clothing Co., has a variety of shirts that create awareness and promote acceptance of those with disabilities.

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“All of our t-shirts have positive messages,” Jose explained. “Whether it’s ‘more than down,’ portraying Chris or anyone with a disability or down syndrome, [they are] much more than just down syndrome.”

The shirts showcase empowering messages—pure love, leader, special not different.

The first design they ever created has the word “disabilities” written across the front, with the first three letters scratched out.

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Cynthia explained, “[In] the word disability, we minimized the first three letters and do a scribble so people just really focus on the abilities that people with disabilities have.”

Chris has a lot of abilities to focus on. He plays soccer, basketball and softball. He also participated in Special Olympics where he won multiple gold medals.

“I feel that he just makes everything more beautiful and that’s exactly what we want to bring about with 1986. That people with disabilities make things much more special and more beautiful,” Cynthia said.

The feeling between these siblings is mutual.

“She’s the best sister in the world,” Chris said.

She’s also a protective sister. 

“When I was a child I used to get upset when they used to stare at my brother, so that’s exactly why I think 1986 is helping people to talk about people with disabilities,” she said.

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In addition to supporting people with disabilities, with every purchase, consumers choose one of six different charities, to which 1986 Clothing Co. donates 10 percent of the sales. All of the organizations have a mission or project focused on enhancing the lives of people with developmental disabilities.

With Chris’ help, Jose and Cynthia hope to create a society where everyone is accepted for their abilities. 1986 Clothing Co. is making that wish come true.


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To find out more about 1986 Clothing Co. or to buy a shirt and get the conversation going, check out their website here. 


Bri Lamm
Bri is an outgoing introvert with a heart that beats for adventure. She lives to serve the Lord, experience the world, and eat macaroni and cheese in between capturing life’s greatest moments on one of her favorite cameras.

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