INDIANAPOLIS, Ind -- On a sunny day at Eagle Creek Golf Club, Steve Simpson is teaching his 18-year-old son Sky to putt with precision on the practice green.
"Take your time," Steve reminds his son, who's eagerly attempting putt after putt.
Coaching up your son on his golf swing might be the most normal dad activity of all time... but for the Simpson's, their bond is different. A different that both father and son embrace.
"It's just a different world," Steve said. "It's a wonderful world.”
Steve's son Sky was born with down syndrome. It's something Steve was prepared for before his son was born, however it didn't make the diagnosis any easier at first.
“I went on the internet and tried to find the tools to fix down syndrome," Steve reflected. "You find out first there’s no tools. Then you come to the realization that there aren't tools, because he’s not broken. He’s perfect the way he is.”
On this particular day, Simpson isn’t the only parent at the golf course who knows the process of raising a child with down syndrome. Many of the golfers are members of the group D.A.D.S, which stands for "Dads Appreciating Down Syndrome."
"Its dad’s celebrating victories," Simpson said of his unique group. "When you go in and tell your workmates your son is no longer wearing pull ups and he’s 6 years old or in 6th grade, you may get funny looks from the guys who don’t have kids with disabilities. But if you say that in a D.A.D.S meeting, you get high fives and victory claps."
D.A.D.S. chapter can be found across the world. There are groups in the U.K., Australia and Canada. They also have a presence in a vast majority of U.S. States. However, the first chapter was founded in Indianapolis 17 years ago. A group of Dads would volunteer at buddy walks for Down Syndrome Indiana, but they wanted to do more
"They would be asked to pick up trash and move tables around," Simpson said. "They said they want to be more than that. They want to be more towards dads and fellowship and helping Dads realize what they have”
What they have is a gift. A gift that gives not only to them, but to others.
"It's very rewarding," Simpson said. "I can't describe the pride I have in my son."
The group meets to create a bond and a fellowship with each other. Older parents help younger parents manage the challenges raising a child with down syndrome has.
"You kind of go through... I would say some sort of a grieving process with that news because its not what you expected," said Michael Byron, Executive Director of the D.A.D.S Indianapolis chapter. “You expect all these things, but every child grows up different than what you expect, and just because it's a little different doesn't mean it's bad or anything like that. It's just different, and different is OK.”
As Simpson coaches up his son on the putting green, he feels a sense of pride in celebrating each small victory.
He's showing what it means to be not just a Father, but a Dad.
"We don't call it Father's day in my house, we call it Dad’s day because that’s what it is," Simpson said. "Lots of people can be Fathers, but it takes a little extra to be a dad. And that's what we strive to be.”
More than 200 golfers participated in this year’s golf outing.