My Great Story began on July 2, 1997 in Sacramento, CA. I was seven years old and jazzed out of my mind when I first got to hold my new little sister Isabel in my seven-year-old arms. To me, she looked like your average, regular newborn baby; puffy, pink, kind of like a shriveled-up raisin if you will, but in a cute baby type of way. I looked up at my mom, who had this face like she was holding back tears while trying to smile but wasn’t sure if she should, or could. There was a weird energy in the room. I later learned that Isabel had Down syndrome, which to me at the age of seven meant literally nothing. I mean what’s the big deal? Down syndrome, shmown syndrome, right? She’s my baby sister and she’s cute and I like her so what’s the problem? One day my mom came to pick me up from school, with my baby sister in her arms. A classmate turned to me and blurted out “Is your sister retarded?” Naturally, I was hurt, and incredibly confused. I didn’t realize Isabel looked different to other people, I didn’t realize people saw her in any way other than how I saw her - as my little sister. As a slightly overweight, not-super-popular, socially awkward first-generation Cuban American kid with braces and glasses, I had enough going on that made me different and uncool. This too? Great, I thought. As embarrassing as it is to actually admit that I once felt that way, I feel like I need to put it out there. My relationship with my sister as long as I’ve known her is and has been an amazing journey. As we’ve both grown up and matured, we’ve grown immensely close and closer all the time, because she’s taught me that when you really love someone, WHO CARES what other people think? I am thankful and humbled everyday for the gift of her presence in my life, and I would never, ever want her to be anything or one other than who she is: truly one of a kind. I love my sister Isabel because, well… she’s my sister! But also because she’s ambitious. She wants to go to college, she wants to one day have a job where she can help other people, where she can make a difference in her community. I love her because she’s literally the funniest person I know, like, in the world. She loves a good joke, and she loves to make people laugh. She’s curious, and wants to know things, and try new things, she’s smart, she has an attitude and a heart that loves unconditionally. When she looks at me, she doesn’t see a flighty, unstable twenty-three year old in the midst of a post-college, quarter-life crisis. She looks at me with pure love, no judgment. Like my sister.