12/31/2008

Overheard On New Years Eve

Dan heads outside wearing his leather jacket.

Diane: Dan!  It's freezing out.  You need something heavier.
Dan: I fine.
Diane:  No, you need a Down Coat.
Dan:  Like me!
Diane:  No, "Down" feathers.  Not like you.

12/29/2008

Statue Man Saves a Stranger

Click on the photos to enlarge.  Notice anyone?

The Philadelphia Daily News 
August 8th, 2005
 
Dragon Boat Rowers Save Jumper
By G.W. MILLER II
Photos by Joseph Kaczmarek

Challengers Dragon Boat team members help a man they rescued from the Schuylkill

Every day, the members of the Challengers Dragon Boat team are special.
 
Yesterday, they were heroes.

The Challengers, a team of paddlers with Down syndrome, were beginning their return trip toward Boathouse Row on the Schuylkill after a long practice when team members saw a man standing on the Girard Avenue Bridge around 4 p.m.

Then they saw him jump.

“He flew like a bird and then, splash,” said Carol Lee Lindner, the team’s paddling coach and mother of team captain Alexis Lindner.

The team paddled their cumbersome, 30-foot-long, double hull, practice canoe until they were alongside the man, who was flailing and bobbing in the river.

“I wasn’t scared, “said paddler Christian White, 15. “I felt brave.”

“The kids were great,” said Lindner. “They stayed calm and followed orders.”

Police tied a rope to the 40-year old man, whose name was not released, and pulled him on to land. He was taken to Hahnemann University Hospital.

He was trying to kill himself, police believe.

But the Challengers, who are between the ages of 15 and 30, saved his life.

Lindner said that the man kept saying, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Thank you.”

Police did not know why he had wanted to commit suicide. Before he jumped, he was talking into a cell phone and yelling while standing on the river side of the bridge fence.

He was fortunate that the Challengers were that far up the river yesterday. The team usually leaves its launch from Lloyd Hall, just west of the Art Museum, and turns around well before Girard Avenue.

No other boats were in the area.



Joan Turek and Carol Lee Lindner hold on to a man who is exhausted from having nearly drowned.

The team is practicing for the annual Philadelphia Dragon Boat festival on Oct. 1. They have participated in the event since its inception four years ago.

“I love to hear the roar of the crowd,” said Lindner’s daughter Alexis, 30.

The Philadelphia version of the 2,400-year-old Chinese tradition was the brainchild of Carol Lee Lindner. The first competition here had 42 entries.

This years festival has 128 teams, the maximum that can run the race in one day, Lindner said.

“Their timing is coming along nicely,” she said of the Challengers. “But the idea is to get these children out into society, to let people know what a gift they are.”

Alexis Lindner volunteers with Alzheimer’s patients. Christian White recently won gold medals for swimming in the Pennsylvania Special Olympics.

Team members Drew Dolan and Dan Drinker, and volunteer paddlers Frank Kelly, Joan Turek, Hubert White, Chandler White and Sue Dolan, also helped with the rescue yesterday.

“Now, I’m famous!” said Drinker, 20. “The whole team’s famous!”

Christa Bergman White, Christian’s mother, said, “You could have a boat full of typical people and they wouldn’t’ have reacted as calm as these kids did today.”

12/05/2008

Statue Man Saves His Sister

Statue Man, Statue Man,
Does whatever a statue can,
Turns to stone, on his own,
If danger's near, he'll be here,
Look out! Here comes the Statue Man...


INT. PLYMOUTH SWIM CLUB

Diane Drinker arrives at the swim club with a pool chair and her three children.

Emily, 4, models her brand new bathing suit which has an inner tube built in. She struts along the side of the pool as the family reaches their usual patch of grass.

Dan, 9, sets up his towel next to his brother Will, 8, who tests the water with his toe.

Diane sees Patty sunbathing.

Diane:  Hey Patty.
Patty:  Hey, Di, how are ya?

Dan takes his first real notice of Emily's odd looking swim suit.

Dan: Will, her suit weird. Why?
Will: That’s an inner tube so she can stay afloat.

Dan holds up his inner tube, which he’s just finished inflating.

Dan: Mine bigger.
Emily: Yeah, well I’m smaller.
Dan: Mine bigger. Yours not. Mine better.
Will: No it’s not, Dan. It’s just different.
Dan: I special.
Emily: So am I!

Diane: Okay, lunchtime. Who wants to go to the snack bar?
Will: Me!
Emily: Me!
Dan: Not me, I stay here.
Diane: Dan, we’re all going, you have to come with us.
Dan: I fine.
Diane: Come on, we agreed: food first, pool second. I need your big strong arms to help carry the food back here.

Daniel Drinker has transformed into… STATUE MAN!

Will: Come on, dude. You love the snack bar.

No response

Diane: Danny Boy, don’t you want some chicken fingers?

No response

Will: Lets just go mom, he’ll still be frozen when we get back.
Diane: Patty, can you keep an eye on these two?  I'll be right back.
Patty:  No problem.
Diane:  Thanks.  Emily, you stay with Dan. Will, you come help with the food.  Okay, stay right here. No pool until after we eat. Got it?

All this time, Dan’s eyes have remained fixed on a distant lifeguard stand. He has remained motionless.

Diane leads Will to the snack bar.

Dan and Emily are alone by the pool.

Patty's eyes are closed under her sunglasses.

Emily gets up and begins to wander the edge of the pool.

Dan turns his focus to her but remains still.

Emily pauses to watch an older girl dive in head first through her inner tube.

Emily looks back at Dan, who quickly averts his eyes back to the lifeguard stand.

Emily turns back to the pool and dives in, head first.

Because her inner tube is part of her bathing suit, Emily finds herself stuck, upside down. Her head under water, her legs up in the air.

Dan returns his gaze to the pool and sees Emily.

Emily's legs begin to flail.

Dan looks and sees an unaware Patty continuing to sunbathe.

ZAP! He shoots up. With a running dive, he's in the pool.

He reaches his sister and flips her over.

Emily coughs up some water.

Dan: Em, I sorry.
Emily: For what?
Dan: My tube better.

Diane: I thought I said, “No Pool”?

Dan and Emily turn to see Diane and Will standing on the pool’s edge with the food.

Statue Man, Statue Man,
Friendly neighborhood Statue Man,
He's a rock when he's in shock,
He'll hold still, against your will,
Watch out! Metamorphic Statue Man!

11/30/2008

Statue Man Meets The Cardinal

INT. ST. VINCENT CATHOLIC CHURCH – MORNING

Dan and Will stand in a line of their peers, wearing blue blazers, white khaki’s, and brown loafers. Their hands are clasped in prayer as they slowly move up the aisle toward the pulpit.

Will: Okay, Dude, remember how we practiced?
Dan: Will, I nervous, Will.
Will: There’s nothing to be nervous about.
Dan: He not my priest.
Will: I know. He’s your Cardinal.
Dan: Not mine. He a stranger.
Will: You’ll meet him up there and then he won’t be a stranger anymore. He’s here to confirm us.
Dan: Why?
Will: He has that power.
Dan: Why?
Will: Because that’s one of his functions, along with electing a new Pope.
Dan: Why?
Will: Because, in the Catholic Church, Cardinals are appointed by the Pope and the Pope is elected by the Cardinals.
Dan: Why?
Will: I don’t know. That’s just how it works. Not much of a system, really. Listen, just act religious and look serene.

Dan and Will reach the Cardinal.
Dan steps up to the plate first.
Dan notices the Cardinal is wearing a red beanie.

Dan: He Jewish? (pronounced Goo-ish)

11/23/2008

Statue Man Saves His Brother

INT. PLYMOUTH ELEMENTARY SCHOOL HALLWAY – MIDDAY

Dan Drinker walks alone down the hall like he owns the place.
Mrs. Overcash spots him.

Mrs. O: Daniel, where are you going all by yourself?
Dan: Bathroom.
Mrs. O: Does your aide know that?
Dan: Yes, Overcash.

Dan continues down the hall.

INT. BOY’S BATHROOM – CONTINUOUS

Will sits on the toilet in the furthest stall from the door.
Tommy and Bobby enter and use the urinels.
Tommy looks under the stall and sees Will’s feet.

Tommy: Carpo is that you? Taking a dump at school again?!
Bobby: Don’t have a john at home, Carpo?

The boys begin wetting toilet paper in the sink and launching it into Will’s stall.
Will ducks as the wads stick to the wall of the stall.

Bobby: Don’t you know how dirty these bathrooms are?
Tommy: Yeah, gross! You’d be better off shitting yourself again.

Dan enters the bathroom.

Dan: Bad word.
Tommy: Dan the man!
Dan: You say bad word.
Tommy: I know, I know. I’m sorry, Dan. How about this… you don’t tell on me for cursing and I won’t tell on you for this.

Tommy places a wad of toilet paper in each of Dan’s hands.
Bobby points under the stall.
Dan bends down and looks beneath the stall.
Will is already bent down staring back and Dan with his finger to his mouth “Shhh”
Dan puts his finger to his mouth and smiles.

Tommy: Come on, Dan!
Bobby: Yeah, do it! Teach him a lesson for not being able to hold it!

Dan throws the first wad at Tommy and the second at Bobby.

Tommy: What are you doing you retard? I said throw it at Levi!
Bobby: I’m going to tell your teacher.

Dan grabs more wads from the sink and continues his assault on the boys.

Tommy: Stop, Dan!
Bobby: Alright, you asked for it…

The toilet flushes and Will appears from the stall.

Will: If you lay one finger on him I’ll make sure you don’t play football til summer camp.
Bobby: Drinker? Dude, we thought you were Levi Carpo.
Will: Well, I’m not.
Bobby: I know you have stomach problems. We really thought you were Levi.
Will: And what if I was Levi?
Tommy: Lets get out of here. They’re nothing but freaks, anyway.

Tommy and Bobby exit.

Dan: He say bad word.
Will: I know. You know throwing is bad, too?
Dan: Yes, but you my brother.
Will: Thanks, dude. Come on, I’ll walk you back to class.
Dan: I gotta pee.
Will: Oh. Right.


Are YOU an artist? If you'd like to contribute to The Adventures of Statue Man just send us an e-mail. Maybe you know Dan and have the perfect story to share. Maybe you don't know Dan but want to express your creativity and illustrate a scene I've already written. Let's get to work, people! Daniel Drinker is no longer limited to a single medium!

11/20/2008

Dan's Last Day of High School

Chronologically speaking, this scene follows Coping With Death and Discussing Dan's Transition. If you haven't seen those, I suggest you do before you check out this one because you'll have more context.



Click Here to watch this scene on You Tube


Plymouth Whitemarsh high school was Dan's world. He loved going to school. When he was ill he would hide his symptoms and feign health in order to attend class. In 2005, Dan's friends and classmates graduated. He stayed at PW one more year because he could stay in public school until he turned 21. Therefore, in 2006, all his friends began college while he attended high school one final year. At the Class of '06 PW Picnic, he really only knew the faculty and staff. Had it been the Class of '05 Picnic, he would have been the star of the show. After all, they'd voted him king of several of their dances. Dan made due at the '06 picnic, of course. Once he was able to obtain his yearbook he found a way to fit right in.

Click to enlarge

11/19/2008

Statue Man - Girl's Bag










A few months ago I called for artists to volunteer their talents so that together we could begin to visualize a series of comics I'd written about Dano Mano. There are just too many good stories others have told me or I simply wasn't able to film. Thankfully, a designer named Aram Fresh contacted me. He and I have never met but we share in common a love for Dan the Man. I sent him the script for the episode above and his work speaks for itself. It is moments such as this when I marvel at the communicative and collaborative power of the internet. Thanks so much, Aram. I'm sure our viewers will thank you for getting the ball rolling on this new facet of our project.

Speaking of which... are YOU an artist? If you'd like to contribute to The Adventures of Statue Man just send us an e-mail. Maybe you know Dan and have the perfect story to share. Maybe you don't know Dan but want to express your creativity and illustrate a scene I've already written. Let's get to work, people! Daniel Drinker is no longer limited to a single medium!

11/17/2008

Statue Man vs. Sammy Weak

The Adventures of Statue Man - Episode 2

Present day: Will and his friend Sam are walking.

Sam: One time, when Dan and I were in 5th grade, Mrs. Meyer’s class.
Will: Right…
Sam: Dan wanted to arm wrestle…

Cut To: Mrs. Meyer’s class room.

Dan and Sam sit next to each other. They are both nine years old.


Dan: Come on, Sam.
Sam: I don’t know, Dan. I’m pretty strong.
Dan: I stronger!
Sam: Alright… but I’m warning you.

They lock arms and begin to arm wrestle. Sam narrates while they fight it out.

Sam’s Narration: Naturally, I let him win. I knew if I beat him I’d never hear the end of it.

Dan beats Sam. Classmates cheer.

Dan: Sammy Weak!
Sam: Nice job Dan, I guess you were right!
Dan: I strong, Sammy Weak!
Student 1: Haha! Sammy Weak!
Dan: Yeah!
Student 2: Sammy Weak!

“Sammy Weak” catches on throughout the classroom.

Sam sits quietly, trying to keep his cool.

Cut back to the present: Will and Sam walking and talking.


Sam: From then on, I was known as “Sammy Weak”.
Will: I never heard about this.
Sam: It lasted for the entire year.
Will: Well, you know… I mean, Dan didn’t know that would happen.
Sam: Oh no. I give him more credit than that. He knew exactly what he was doing.


11/05/2008

A Great American


Dan is having a great fall season so far. The Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series, he dressed as Ryan Howard for Halloween, and Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States. Dan lives in Pennsylvania and I live in California so he called me this morning to make sure I knew Barack won. I asked him how he felt,
“I’m so happy, Will. He’s my man.”
Dan has an elegant way of summing things up. Honestly, what more could my brother have said? It is a truly happy and historic day and whether you voted for him or not, he is our man for the next four years. Barack has been Dan’s man long before he was mine, or anyone in our family’s. During the primary between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama we lived in a split household, right down the gender line. Years before that, Barack gave a speech at the 2004 DNC and Dan made a note of how sharp he was.

Today is a day of celebration for many reasons but I would like to celebrate my brother’s extraordinary achievement as a citizen of this great nation. After countless You Tubers have insisted Dan should not be allowed to vote, that me or my family are dictating his vote, or that he’s simply too stupid to vote (the latter comments always coming from those who have worse grammar than Dan) I feel compelled to shout “NO!”

Dan Drinker is a man of his own volition, a proud American whose sense of responsibility and duty called him to participate in this election in every way he could. If you’ve spent even five minutes watching him in action you’ll know that the only reason he’s been so committed to this election is because he wants to be. I wish to celebrate his patriotism.
Link
Dan watched all the debates, he voted in the Pennsylvania primary, he saw Barack speak at Penn State University, he endorsed his candidacy right here on his website, and he voted for him in the general election. Yesterday he called to tell me he just voted for “Barack Obama and his friend Joe Biden”. Today after gushing about our new president he insisted I post something today. So here I am. I explained that’d be difficult since the scenes I’ve been working on don’t really speak to the election. He said, “I don’t care, Obama won”. So, let us celebrate that we live in a country that allows a 23 year-old man with Down syndrome to have a voice in the most important election of his lifetime.

Dan has always been an excellent judge of character. Whenever a new friend comes to our house, Dan finds a way to test their personality and reveal who they really are. He understands that he is special and always cleverly determines if you can handle it. You could call Dan the litmus test of our household in a way. If he doesn’t like someone, it’s usually for a very fundamental reason that no one can ignore. If he loves someone, they usually deserve it. I’m not kidding. When I would bring a girl home and she failed the Dan test, there was no turning back. There is no alternative to Dan Drinker’s approval. Maybe that’s why I try so hard to impress him.

So maybe Dan doesn’t know all of the policies being debated, or the solution to the current financial crisis, or whether we’ll go to war with Iran but neither do I and neither do you. Dan voted with his heart. Dan cares and he tries. He tries very hard. For that, I believe he should be commended. Equal opportunity is nothing more than an opportunity. Because he seizes the opportunity, Dan Drinker is a great American.

9/26/2008

Dan Breaks Up With Sarah

                                                   WATCH IT on You Tube.

9/11/2008

Dan's April In Paris


CLICK HERE to watch this scene on You Tube.

Dan took Sarah to Melmark's "April In Paris" formal.   I would like to give Dan credit for the concept as well as the execution of his beret, glove, and song list.  Countless people that evening tried to give me credit saying "That's so nice you dressed him in a Beret".  It's amazing how quick people are to assume Dan's limitations.  After finding clips of "An American In Paris" on youtube, Dan asked his grandmother to buy him a beret.  He came prepared all by himself.  I discovered his plans when the camera was rolling.

7/14/2008

Dan Gets a Haircut


CLICK HERE to watch this scene on Youtube

Dan Drinker and Terri Lynn Mckenzie were students in Mrs. Overcash's 4th grade class together.  Dan was part of an inclusion classroom where he was the only student in the class with special needs.  My mother kept a communication book with all of Dan's teachers.  Dan would carry the book back and forth between home and school.  Below are excerpts from the daily conversations my mother had with Dan's teacher and Aide.

Dan first met Terri in the first week of September.  The first week of school:
9/4/96
Today I spoke to the class about Dan. Everyone was very receptive. His classmates at his table are: Terri Mckenzie, Shannon Kearns, and Fred Chang. Terri was commended today for being so wonderful and helpful to Dan.

9/5/96
Terri mentioned that Dan kissed her at lunchtime. She was very understanding as we spoke to her.
9/6/96
Dan’s friend that sits next to him is Terri. Apparently, he was following her around and not allowing her time to play with other friends. She appears to be a very nice and fair friend. She isn’t truly complaining about him – she’s just suggesting that she be able to play with other kids, too. I talked to him. Could you, too? Some other boys also came up and said they want to play with him for tomorrow. So I felt good about this because they all worked this out on their own.

Those accounts were from Mrs. Overcash and Mrs. Haegel.  The following year, in fifth grade, my mom was corresponding with two other teachers, Mrs. Meyer and Mrs. Kozeniewski.  Terri was no longer in Dan's class but the first week of school was all about her:
9/3/97
He didn’t want to come in for recess. I went out to get him and asked him if everything was okay. He said, “no” and asked for Terri. He asks for her a lot. I told him he could see her during recess. He seems to accept his friends being in other classrooms, but not Terri.
9/5/97
If you could talk to him about how important it is for him to come in from recess in the class line it would be very helpful. He stays outside to wait for Terri. We haven’t given in on his requests for Terri. I’ve been telling him that she is in another class where she is learning, like he is. Overall, we had a great first week. I think Dan and I will have a wonderful year. Looking forward to Monday.

9/11/97
We think that Dominique is replacing Terri. Dan taps her on the head when he walks by her. She seems to be understanding, so far.

5/29/2008

Chestnut Hill Local

CLICK HERE to read the article.

Dan and I made the cover of the local section of the Chestnut Hill Local.  A big thank you from both of us to Kristin Pazulski for taking the time to tell our story and to the Local for shedding light on our project.  We met with Kristin twice at McNally's Tavern.  I had a Schmitter and water while Dan had a burger and a glass of wine.

5/23/2008

Dan and Sarah's Birthday


CLICK HERE to watch this scene on You Tube.

Dan was born on May 9th. His girlfriend was born on May 10th. They celebrated their double birthday at Dan's favorite restaurant, Halligan's Pub. A very special thanks to Joe Halligan and the entire staff who treat my brother with love and respect on a weekly basis.

Find out more about Halligans CLICK HERE.

Below is a composite made from the three birthday cards Dan made Sarah from scratch.

Click image to enlarge.

I'd also like to point out that Dan has never liked being called "Danny". Since we were young he has reacted rather negatively to those who try to call him anything other than "Dan". I can't blame him. I am the same way when someone assumes they can call me "Bill". With a last name like ours, it's only natural we take names and labels to heart. Dan, however, takes exception to this when it comes to girls. If he's trying to be endearing, like in all three cards he made for Sarah, he will sign "Danny". In the scene above, when Sarah reads "Love, Danny" she pauses and exclaims "Cute!" I guess he knows what he's doing.

Love,
Willy

4/30/2008

The Will Drinker Show - Biology Class


In high school when I missed school due to illness I did a show called "The Will Drinker Show" in order to make up for the missed class time. This scene is from one I did for biology class. The focus was primarily on my disease, Hirschsprung's, but Dan is featured in it heavily as are my dad and sister. Enjoy.

4/29/2008

Old School

When it comes to my filmmaking, Dan has always been the most convenient and agreeable star. Back to the time when I first began playing with my Dad's video camera my brother was always available and willing to perform. Long before we began this project Dan was the star of the majority of my movies.

STAR WARS


DAN AND DIZZY DISCUSS "TITANIC"


THE PURPLE ALIEN


THE ALL GIRLS CLUB

4/22/2008

Dan Votes in the Pennsylvania Primary

CLICK HERE to watch this video on You Tube

When Dan's sister, Emily, returned home from school this afternoon, she found a note on her desk. Dan had typed it on the computer and printed it out and left it for her to find (no one helped him):


This was Emily's first time voting. Dan's note wasn't enough to talk her out of voting for Hillary Clinton.

4/10/2008

Dan Drinker Visits Penn State to See Barack Obama

CLICK HERE to watch Dan's endorsement of Senator Obama.

                                                        All Photos by Evan M. Cuttic 
                                                                   (click photos to enlarge)


Directly after "breaking up" with Christine, Dan and I headed to State College, Pennsylvania to visit our friend Evan. He goes to Penn State University and Barack Obama was speaking there. 


CLICK HERE to view this scene on You Tube

Click below to listen to Dan and Will on PSU's radio morning talk show.  My stream timed out shortly into the broadcast so I was only able to record a bit of it.  We were on the air for an hour.



A deleted scene.


CLICK HERE to read an article about Dan in Penn State's newspaper, The Daily Collegian.

4/06/2008

Dancing In The Street


Sometimes Dan likes to put on his favorite gear and head out into our street with his iPod. This is not a man who is lost in his head. This is a performance. If no one is out playing, he will wander our neighborhood until he finds people outdoors to dance for. The reason the girls in the background don't seem phased is because they aren't. This is something Dan has always done and something we have always enjoyed watching.

His iPod contains a variety of music. He most exclusively listens to the High School Musical soundtrack (both films). He also frequents Elvis Presley, The Blues Brothers, Michael Jackson, The Beatles, The Bee Gees, the West Side Story soundtrack, Jay Z, Usher, Nelly, Cool and the Gang, Run DMC, The Temptations, The Supremes, Carole King, James Taylor, and his sister, Emily Drinker.

Dan and I recently spent some time searching You Tube for his favorite dance songs. You can find our favorites on right right side of this blog under "Let's Dance!". Fair warning, be prepared to dance. Dan, Emily, our mom, and I were dancing in my room to "Boogie Nights" only moments ago. It could happen to YOU.

4/02/2008

He Was Meant To Shine


Dan Drinker at Beach Haven, NJ

I wrote this song a few days ago and recorded it with my sister last night. It is just a demo. Soon, we hope to re-record it more professionally. Let us know what you think. To play the song click the pink circle below.   

The Word of the Day



Dan and I used to play a speech game called "The Word of the Day".  On this particular occasion, Emily was filming, I was dong my best Alfred Hitchcock impression, and the word was "Celtics".

Graduating From Ken-Crest

Dan and his grandmother, Nancy Freedman

Dan spent his pre-school years at Ken-Crest, an early intervention program.  When he graduated, his grandparents presented him with this poem:

Daniel...
Your birth was bittersweet.
But, you soon erased the element of regret
leaving only the mark of pleasure.

Daniel...
Your first year is full of memories. 
Unending feedings, monitor wires, false alarms.
Therapy balls, mouth excercises.
And then off to KEN-CREST.

Daniel...
Your second year of crawling and then learning to stand.
Your love of yogurt in a variety of flavors.

Daniel...
Your third year of learning to walk
with a strut like no other.
Your love affair with applesauce.
Your communicating without speaking
and people totally understood.

Daniel...
Your fourth year of private speech therapy with
dramatic improvement of verbal communication.
Potty training, the hits and misses.
Learning the computer.
And last but not least,
your wonderful relationship with your brother, William.

Daniel...
You muster courage and try.
You have accomplished with pride numerous goals.
You have reached one of many milestones
Your graduation from Ken-Crest.

Daniel...
You made us look at the world differently.
You gave us permission to cry in public.
You bring great joy and sometimes it runs down our cheeks.
You are the best thing that ever happened to us!

Daniel...
We love you very much,
Grampy and Grandy

Dan and his grandfather, Arthur Freedman.

Click on the images to enlarge

Blast From the Past


Click here to see more of Dan's videos on You Tube

This montage is part of a video I made Dan for his high school graduation.  Our father shot all (well, most) of the footage (before he gave me the camera for good).  Watch Dano grow up to a song that might has well have been written just for him.



Two more songs from Dan's graduation video.  Two of his favorites.

3/28/2008

Two Memories


Will must have been maybe 2 or 3 and I guess Dan was a year older. We were all at Grandmom and Grandpop's old house on Graver's Lane and it was around Easter (Alex and I lived in Chicago at the time). Will was still very sick from all of his early surgeries and understandably terrified of any type of mask. Someone had brought a whole bunch of bunny masks for us kids to wear and Will became afraid. Dan leapt into action as his younger brother's protector, somehow simultaneously comforting Will while at the same time berating whoever had brought the mask. I don't know why I remember this, but it was so sweet and so obviously instinctual and Will seemed very much secure in the knowledge that his big brother Dan was going to take care of the problem and make everything better.

My second memory of Dan is after Grandpop died. I guess we were all gathered again and I must have been particularly upset. Dan came over to me and gave me the most loving, gentle hug and just softly kept saying, "It's okay, Grandpop in heaven" and it really did make me feel so much better.
Lauren Drinker
(Dan's Cousin)

3/27/2008

Visiting Lehigh


Click Here to watch this scene on You Tube

Our family started bright and early and drove to the Martin Guitar Factory for a tour. After lunch, we stopped at Lehigh University to see the Drinker House. Click Here to learn more about the dormitory.

Thanks to Ross Reilly for the wonderful music. Check out his myspace.



The Man With The Cat (Henry Sturgis Drinker)
by Cecilia Beaux

Below is Lehigh's biography of Dan's great great grandfather:

Henry Sturgis Drinker (1905-1920) was an 1871 Lehigh graduate and the only alumnus ever to become president. The alumni endowment fund was established in 1907, the Lehigh Alumni Bulletin was first published in 1913, and the Alumni Association was incorporated in 1917.

A lawyer and a mechanical engineer, Drinker helped solve the problems of building the two-mile-long Musconetcong Tunnel, an engineering feat that made possible a railroad line between Easton, Pa., and New York City. He started a tradition of business-like management of university affairs.

During Drinker's years, more buildings were completed: the original section of Fritz Engineering Laboratory, Drown Hall, Coxe Mining Laboratory, Taylor Hall, Taylor Gymnasium and Field House, Taylor Stadium and Lamberton Hall. Drinker's interest in horticulture led to the planting of many rare trees and plants.

A teacher's course and a business administration course were begun in 1909, and in 1918, the university was divided into three colleges: liberal arts, business administration and engineering - roots of today's colleges. Army ROTC was established in 1919.

Drinker's daughter, Catherine Drinker Bowen, became a historical writer of note. Her experiences as the daughter of a Lehigh president and occupant of the President's House are recorded in Family Portrait (Atlantic Little-Brown).


This is a short excerpt from the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography:

While Henry was apparently interested in Cecilia, she was never taken with him. On one occasion she had been away from home when Catharine and Henry dropped by for a visit. She later noted in her diary "I don't mind missing him." Diary of 1875, Beaux Papers
Tara Leigh Tappert

Always On The Move

Dan and Mom, Summer 1989

When Dan goes to church he never sits with his family, at least, not for too long.  Typically, he will leave us and invite himself to sit with other members of the community.  He will remain with someone ("my friend"), even fall asleep on their shoulder for a quick nap (what we would all like to do during some sermons!).  But, appropriately timed with the flow of the service, Dan moves on a couple more times to different sections to join others in the congregation.

Dan demonstrates the true spirit of "community." What appears to be a simple action is quite complex.  Week after week, I'm used to staying in my comfort zone, sitting with my family in the same place in church.  Inhibitions prevent us from reaching out and opening ourselves up to each other's joy and pain, to that which makes us human.  We lose many opportunities for growth and connection.  Next time, wherever it is, I'm going to move around.
Diane Drinker

3/23/2008

Dan's Big Date In Philadelphia

CLICK HERE to watch this scene on You Tube

All week long, Dan has been planning a date with Sarah. This evening's plan was dinner and bowling. After Sarah arrived, our friend, Evan Cuttic called and invited us to see the Philadelphia 76ers play the New Jersey Nets. Evan is home from Penn State for Easter, in town just for one night and when he acquired free box seat Sixers tickets, he called us. Dan and Sarah happily shelved their bowling plans for a date downtown. My favorite moment from this scene is the shot of Dan standing at the bar waiting to be served. I fall to pieces when I see that image. I imagine a mother might feel something similar watching her daughter board the bus on the first day of school, wanting to help but knowing she has to do it on her own. For me, it's a proud sort of "look, there he goes" feeling.

This is, as far as I am concerned, his first time ordering a beer at a bar. In the past he has walked around a party with a beer more as a prop, to fit in with everyone else who is drinking -- he only would have a few sips because it was only for show. He usually does not like alcohol, it makes him feel "dizzy". Tonight, he finished his beer. There was something about the entire evening that was so spectacular to Evan and I that we don't quite know how to put it into words. I came away from tonight with nothing but respect, love, and awe for my so very big brother.

Photo by Evan M. Cuttic

3/20/2008

Dan Endorses Barack Obama


Click here to watch this scene on youtube

Dan has been following the presidential campaign with great passion.  He has been talking my ear off recently about Senator Obama and I decided, after his speech in our native Philadelphia, that it was time to ask Dan to share his thoughts.  I have always thought my brother to be an excellent judge of character and I feel his opinion is as valuable as the most famous or respected political authority because he speaks the truth and adds nothing more.

Please pass this along if you believe in having something to believe in.  Be it Dan, or Barack, or Hillary, or McCain, or Ralph Nader, or yourself.

3/19/2008

A Note From Dan

Dan after a dragon boat race

An open letter Dan wanted to post on the site:

I love Melmark and I love faculty/staff and friends and I love Acme and I love PW and High School Musical 2 and I love Sarah and I love my Mom and Dad and Will and Emily and Gran and Jim and Tom and Paul.

Love,
Daniel Drinker

Call For Content and Volunteers

Dan featured in a German publication I can't pronounce

Tonight it occurred to me that Dan's story can be told in other ways besides filmmaking.  I want to take the stories I've been getting and try plugging them into a comic based on Dan.  I will write it, using the stories I'm told about him from you, the ones who know him.  I need other people to draw it.  Or sketch it.  Or paint it.  Or however you want to do it.  The key to this blog is to develop a picture of my older brother that goes far beyond my own perspective.

So get in touch with the Blues Brothers if you want to be a part of this attempt to portray Dan as the super hero he is.  For example, one of the first stories, that I'd ask you to draw, would be about the time Dan was rowing with his dragon boat team on the Schuylkill River when a man jumped from the Girard Avenue bridge and they rowed to him, pulled him to safety, and called for help.  Dan called my mom, knowing she was a nurse.  It's a true story, and I know there are many true stories among those of you who are reading this.  If you have something to say about Dan, please send us an email.

Also, if you are a graphic designer, or have anything you could offer the design or layout of this blog, please get in touch with us.  Web design is not my forte.

The same goes for photos.  If you have a photo of Dan, please contact me so we can get a copy and find out the story behind it.  Thanks again.

3/18/2008

Dan's Graduation Party at PW

A week before Dan graduated from Plymouth Whitemarsh High School, Dan and his classmates had a party in Mrs. McMahon's classroom. Family and friends were invited. My favorite moment is when Carl starts dancing for the camera, and of course, my dad.

3/17/2008

Dan's Seventh Prom

Before Sarah, Dan was with a girl named Connie.  They broke up but remained best friends through high school.  Dan took her to what was, at the time, his seventh prom.  We've lost count at this point but he's now been to at least eleven or twelve.  Dan lives to wear a tux and dance, so you can imagine how important this day was for him.

3/13/2008

Daniel Drinker Enters 4th Grade

On the steps of Curlew Cottage
Beach Haven, NJ

This may not sound like news to you, but for Daniel Drinker and his family, friends, classmates, teachers and school administrators, this is a major event.  Daniel, oldest of the three children of Ned Drinker (tax accountant in Gulph Mills), is ten years old, has blonde hair, blue eyes and loves to swim and perform.  Daniel also has Down syndrome.  Beginning in September, Daniel will attend the fourth grade in his neighborhood school, Colonial Elementary in Plymouth Meeting, PA.  He will be the first student with mental retardation to attend any school in the Colonial School District as an "included" student.  That means he will not be in a segregated class or pulled out for special treatment.  He will be treated just like the other children in his class, but "with support." He is supposed to get the support that he needs to function in a normal environment.  To facilitate this inclusion, the number of students in his class has been kept lower than the average in the school and an aide has been assigned to the room, not to hover over him, but to allow the teacher or the aide to spend extra time with Daniel, when necessary.

For Daniel's parents, Ned and Diane Drinker, the move to full inclusion sounds promising but raises great fears.  Says Ned, "Daniel will feel just great being treated like everybody else.  For the first time in his life he is going to the same school as his brother William (age 9).  This increase in self-esteem, by itself, might ease Daniel's transition into a normal setting."  Diane frets, "Daniel's speech problems are so great that we cannot understand him some of the time.  How is he going to survive in the schoolyard?"  Ned elaborates, "Several years ago I coached a soccer team that Daniel and William were both on.  We all tried hard to include Daniel, but he just couldn't play at age level; he would just stand there.  He ended up getting frustrated, throwing all the balls down the hill and pulling his pants down.  He did not make a lot of friends."

Even so, Ned is investing his hopes and dreams in the inclusive model.  "We've fought for the last two years, all the way to federal district court, to keep the school district from sending Daniel to a "special class.  But instead of having learning disabilities, most of the students in this class were socio-emotionally disturbed.  One used to throw chairs at the teacher.  No kidding.  Daniel would have learned nothing but bad behavior.  I learned from this experience that there is no sanctuar; the best hope for the special student is in the normal population.  After years of being a separtist, I am finally becoming a hardcore inclusionist."  If Daniel and his normal peers can learn to get along in class, and maybe even develop friendships, Daniel's future will be much brighter.  Ned concludes, "Theoretically, I see that inclusion is the best way to educate all children.  As a matter of fact, only by educating our children in this way can we expect to fully integrate our society, for all types of differences."

written by Brian Courtney

How Dan Copes With Death


Click Here to watch this scene on youtube

My family feels this scene is significant because it shows us all how Dan mourns. How we think we all should mourn. Whether he knew the departed well, or not at all, Dan mourns the exact same way. I should also mention that after Dan hugs me I turn off the camera for about ten minutes so I could console him.

Two Stories

Dan takes questions from a reporter after his Dragon Boat Race

These are two stories of Dan's.  They are both from his fourth grade class, taught by Mrs. Overcash.

Mrs. Overcash In the Bathtub
by Dan Drinker

"Help! Help!" said Dan.  "Mrs. Overcash is in the bathtub and she won't get out.  Somebody help me."
"I will," said T.J.  "Get out of the tub. It is time to eat lunch," said T.J.
Mrs. Overcash said, "Today we eat lunch in the tub."
"Help! Help!" said Dan. "Mrs. Overcash is in the tub and she won't get out.  Who will help?"
"I will," said Miss Haegele.  "It is time to teach the class."
"Today I teach in the tub," said Mrs. Overcash.
"Help! Help!" said Dan. "Mrs. Overcash is in the tub and she won't get out.  Who will help?"
"I will," said Terri.  "It is time to go swimming."
"Today we swim in the tub!" said Mrs. Overcash.
"Help! Help!" said Dan. "Mrs. Overcash is in the tub and she won't get out.  Who can help?"
The class said, "Lets tie a rope around her and pull her out." Mrs. Overcash is finally out of the tub!
Dan points out "my brother" to the reporter.

Dutchie Swims At P.W.
by Dan Drinker
Dedication: This story is dedicated to my mom because I love her.

Dutchie is Mrs. Overcash's pet dog.  One day he went to P.W. to go swimming.  Dutchie dove in the deep end of the pool.  His paws touched the bottom of the pool.  Dutchie was scared and happy.  Mrs. Swetkowski jumps in the pool to save Dutchie.  Her hair sticks up very high.
About the Author: My name is Dan Drinker.  I love dogs.  Dutchie is a nice dog.  My story is about Dutchie becasue he is a really cute dog.

3/12/2008

In Daniel's Head


2/19/96
Ned Drinker
No one knows what is going on in Daniel's head,
but it's easy to guess.

When he stands in front of the mirror holding a broom handle and moaning and skrieking off key, the way only he can,
He sees himself as a famous singer.

When he builds multiple towers with his blocks,
He sees himself as a great architect.

When he makes a bunch of marks on a piece of paper and shows it off proudly,
He sees himself as a great artist.

When kids call him moron, stupid, or retard: he is mean right back,
Because he doesn't see himself that way.

When he attempts to imitate anything his brother or sister do,
He sees himself as a typical child of his mother and father.

When he talks fast and unintelligibly to classmates,
He sees himself as being able to talk like everyone else.

When he winds up with a baseball and it flies off in the wrong direction,
He sees himself as a great pitcher.

When he does arithmetic with counters or works on his vocabulary with flash cards,
He sees himself as a serious thinker.

When he teases the girls on the bus,
He sees himself as a great lover.

When he plays with his friend Mark who also has Down syndrome,
He sees himself as a great friend.

And he is that.

When he lets out a laugh you have to laugh with him and
He sees himself as a great entertainer.

And he is that.

But usually for Daniel there is a difference between the way he sees himself and the way others see him. and though he will never be a great singer, architect, artist, speaker, athlete or scholar in our minds; in his mind, he is the best. For discovering this simple truth at such a young age, he certainly deserves our respect and admiration. Better yet, maybe we can learn something from him.

And, perhaps, even though he doesn't see himself that way, maybe what Daniel is, more than anything else,
is a teacher.

Who is Daddy Freedman?









I found this typed letter amongst old files in the basement.  It is signed "Daddy Freedman". Our mother's maiden name is Freedman, so I assumed it was from our grandfather (or Grampy).  My mom insists that he wouldn't have signed his name Daddy Freedman.  My grandmother removed suspicion by noting that my grandfather was dead when the letter was written.  A true mystery!  Odd as it is, all our assumptions point to the author being my Dad.  I like the words, whoever wrote them.

April 19, 1994

Dear Dano-Man,
Hey big guy!  I just wanted you to know that I think it is just great that you are trying to do new things.  What I am thinking of is turning on the bath water, playing baseball, and learning how to cut with a knife and fork.  In all three of those activities you are really being brave by trying something new and difficult.  I'll be helping you as you learn and we'll celebrate when you can do them by yourself!
Love,
Daddy Freedman

Neddy Hooks It Up

Dan and Dad in The Colonial
December 15, 2004

Click image to enlarge

Dan Takes Sarah To His Sister's Show


Click here to watch this scene on youtube

The Hannah Montana date was postponed when Dan realized the perfect followup date should actually be to take his new girlfriend to see "Leader of the Pack" at William Penn Charter School, in Philadelphia.  His sister Emily had a starring role and what better way to show off to your new girl than take her to the theater?  

The film gods are a true mystery.  First, they bring me home with blood clots in my legs so I can continue to film Dan.  Then, on an evening where I'm expected to film both my siblings, they break my camera's lens just before I begin shooting.  Then they send the Bartolozzi's my way, who offer their camera for the night.  Thank you, Bartolozzis, it means a great deal to me you let me shoot that night.  Auspicious occasions happen all the time.

Wacky Hair Day

Dan on the cover of The Times Herald 
Wednesday July 25, 2001

click on the image to read the caption.

I Like To Be Me

I can't quite date this document but the first page is a family tree (which I won't be including) with a "Baby expected, 2/26/90".  All my sources point to that expected child being Emily, but let's not rule out family secrets I have yet to uncover.  It's definitely safe to say my brother was probably 4, and I was probably 3.  This stapled packet of papers must have been sent home as an assignment in one of Dan's earliest classroom environments.  These pictures were collaged into the stapled handout as well.  It was titled "I Like To Be Me" and written in our mother's handwriting.  I will do my best to type it up:

All About Me

This Makes Me Happy:
1. Spending time with his "Grampy" ("B.A.") and Grandy ("G").  Daniel sees his grandparents often but always receives them as if he hasn't seen them for a long time.  He really loves and enjoys them.
2. Playing with blocks - he is very creative - stacking, lining up vertically, sorting by color, building airplanes, busses, cars, chairs...
3. Musical instruments - playing "Marching Band" with his brother William.
4. Playing in the pool and with the hose.
5. Eating out at restaurants and ordering milkshakes.
6. Pretending he is having a picnic (in our living room) with a blanket and play dishware and food.
Helping put away the groceries
This Makes Me Sad:
1. Getting nails cut - has always screamed and fought very strongly - we think it is related to CP and how he perceives this internal stimuli.
2. When Daniel can't do something and he is aware of it without even tring, i.e. riding the tricycle - especially when his brother, William can do the particular task.
3. Afraid of certain animals - big dogs.
4. When his brother takes a toy from him - Daniel cries rather than attempting to retrieve the toy.
5. When his brother, William is ill or away for extended periods in the hospital - watching William in pain - Daniel will pout and hold his hand. 
Dan on the original Apple 2e - With a touch screen
I Do This Best:
1. Creativity with blocks - best block stacker since he was a baby!
2. Throwing and catching a ball (has a future in the major leagues)
3. Charming people - has a real way of winning people over and melting their hearts - can be a master manipulator.
4. Making friends
Bookworm
I like this best:
1. Likes doing things by himself - has real pride.
2. Milkshakes and cookies.
3. Rides and carnivales.
4. Reading books with Mom and Dad.
5. Playing with neighborhood friends, ages varying 3 1/2 - 10 yrs.
6. Dancing at Grampy's house to Benny Goodman.
7. "Winnie the Pooh and the Slushy Day" - "Pooh Day" he calls it.
8. Learning new things.
9. Swinging on swings at playgrounds or in our yard.
10. Playing at the computer.
11. Going to church (since very little), talking to priest, putting money in collction basket, praying.
12. Watching any type of musical.
Daniel and brother William (always serious) at the church carnival.

One of William's many hospitalizations - lots of tubes and pain, very tough for Daniel.

Click Images to enlarge them and see the looks on some of those faces.