‘I need a job, Dad.’ The solution was right in front of me.

«I’m Finbar Barry, and I’d like to introduce you to my son, Thomas.» Thomas was the youngest of seven children born with Down syndrome, as well as Perthes disease, Hirschsprung disease, a heart murmur, an underactive thyroid, a hiatus hernia, stomach reflux, and severe anemia. The majority of these ailments began to manifest themselves when he was about 18 months old!

Thomas nearly died at birth and was immediately placed in an incubator. We were urged to have him baptized because there was minimal chance of him surviving. But after two months, much to the surprise of the entire family, we received word that we could finally take him home. Thomas was demonstrating that he was a warrior even at such a young age. Weeks turned into months, and his other diseases began to emerge, beginning with anemia, which became very severe, and as a result, he had to have many blood transfusions.

The two units of blood he received lasted him six months, then he received more blood, which lasted him five months, and so on until two units of blood barely lasted him six weeks. He was identified with a hiatus hernia close to his heart when he was about 4 years old and required an 8-hour operation to try to correct it.

also a belly tuck to correct his diaphragm, which was pretty loose because he couldn’t keep his meals down. Thomas began to feel ill when he was eight years old. He was admitted to the hospital, and while tests were being performed, his health deteriorated and he nearly died. He was diagnosed with Hirschsprung disease after the results were returned. He was admitted to the ICU for critical care and remained there for 6 months. He began to complain about knee pain as time passed.

When the doctor examined him, he commented the problem might not be his knee but his hip. He was recommended pain relief, but some weeks later, the hip totally dislocated and he was brought to the operating room for surgery. He was 9 years old at the time. As his parents, both my late wife and I were heartbroken at the level of pain he had to endure on a daily basis in his short life to date. I can recall we often wished to take his pain to give him some relief so he didn’t have to cry himself to sleep each night.

As time passed, he complained about pain in his knee. When the doctor examined him, he commented the problem might not be his knee but his hip. He was recommended pain relief, but some weeks later, the hip totally dislocated and he was brought to the operating room for surgery. He was 9 years old at the time. As his parents, both my late wife and I were heartbroken at the level of pain he had to endure on a daily basis in his short life to date.

I can recall we often wished to take his pain to give him some relief so he didn’t have to cry himself to sleep each night. When Thomas reached the age of 14, the Perthes disease had spread to the other hip, which meant more surgery. He suffered 14 years of pain before finally becoming the youngest person in Ireland to have a total hip replacement at 28 years old. Not long after his surgery, Thomas began to talk to me about getting a job. He was constantly telling me to make lunch for him. I suppose he got the idea of going to work from watching his older brothers and myself going out to work, so he thought he would do the same.

Every time he brought up this subject, his mother and I would tease him and say, “Oh yeah, Thomas. You’ll get a job. Maybe next year.” In reality, Thomas will never be qualified for a steady job because of an intellectual and physical disability, but this did not affect his creative desire to express his inner self. Anyone who knows Thomas knows that when he makes a decision about something, he carries it out with great determination.

I’ve been seeking for choices for years, trying to offer Thomas some way to feel like he can work like everyone else (despite his impairment), and the answer is right in front of me. Thomas was often playing with socks, putting one in the other and balancing between his toes for hours on end. He is an expert in this field after years of practice. When he was younger, he never played with toys, but if he didn’t have socks, he wouldn’t go anyplace.

This is what he had to confront every day when he opened his eyes, and yet he could still put on the most beautiful smile that would melt your heart. His story has impacted many people all around the world, and we continue to receive notes from individuals who are completely inspired by how effectively Thomas dealt with everything he went through and how he operates a business. The message from Thomas is clear: get up and do something about your circumstance, no matter what it is (and everyone’s is different).

If you need help, ask for it; if you have a desire, make it a reality. Remember, if you don’t try, nothing will happen. Thomas’ socks company began in 2019, but it began on the day he was born in 1985. Thomas’ firm is thriving right now; we buy socks from suppliers, but we intend to create socks in the near future. Within our own borders. We eagerly await the day when we will be able to manufacture our own Thomp2 brand socks. Thomas is also concerned about others, thus we donate 5% of our income to our charity partners.»

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