Jordan Isaac, 20, has become something of a local celebrity in Parkdale, thanks to the drum solos, gospel serenades and beatbox shows he performs at his window, delighting passers-by. “Complete strangers would recognize Jordan in the street, come up to us and say, “It’s the boy at the window!” », Says his sister Abigail Whitney. “It just shows how what we love to do can make a positive difference in someone else’s life.”
During the pandemic, he visited the Elm Grove Living Center every day for eight months, where he drummed outdoors for residents and frontline workers. “Without knowing it, Jordan loves everyone in different ways,” says his sister Woodney Pierre. “It is always reflected in his actions and it touches people. The bigwigs have noticed: he recently received two praises from his MP, Arif Virani, for his leadership and community service.
Isaac, suffering from Down syndrome, is also very present on the city’s sports scene: he raced on track at the Special Olympics and represented his school in the intellectual category of the 100 meters at the championships of the Federation of School Associations of Ontario Athletics (OFSAA), and even ran a 5K with Kevin Hart, who cheered him on.
Isaac is particularly popular in the cycling community. “I really enjoy riding my bike,” he says. He wears a helmet he painted in seven different wild hues and rides a brightly colored bicycle he built and customized from recycled parts with the support of charity Charlie’s Freewheels. “Their youth program boosted Jordan’s confidence and continued to give him confidence as he would be riding a bike,” says Whitney. “For Jordan, cycling is about building a relationship and developing a friendship.”
Another cycling enthusiast, Jamal Burger, founder of the nonprofit Kickback for the empowerment of underprivileged youth, met Isaac at a community run and, along with Kickback team member Desiree Bailey, Christopher McGarrell of the ManDem Cycling Club, artist Bryan Espiritu and Isaac’s sister Stella Isaac dreamed up Cycle Jordan, a five-kilometer bike ride to raise money for the young man’s speech therapy. “Cycle Jordan was a simple idea to encourage everyone to love the little things in life, which can open doors you never imagined,” says Burger. “The costs of assisting Isaac are very high and we think it’s important to educate people about the costs. We always felt that the kids who needed it most got the least.
According to Stella, her brother’s speech therapy is no longer funded due to his age. “Any session can cost over $ 100,” she says, “and weekly sessions are needed for consistency and growth. “
“Jordan is an exceptional man,” says Bailey, “and the fundraiser was created to help him reach his optimal development potential. It is especially important to help people like Isaac, adds Bailey, because “there are people with disabilities in BIPOC and the intersectionality of their identity and societal structure places them in both the position of oppressive systems of racism and ableism “.
In the weeks leading up to the inaugural 2020 race, Isaac had a strict training regimen of singing, dancing, juggling and, yes, cycling. More than 100 people came to take the tour, which raised $ 5,495 for his speech therapy.
The therapy was a real boon for her brother, according to Stella. “His speech is clearer and he is more confident,” she said. “He uses phrases and new vocabulary words that he didn’t use before. I also noticed that Jordan expresses his needs more clearly: “I want to go for a bike ride”, “I want to have ice cream with Desiree”.
This year, the organizers wanted to help even more people, so they increased their goal to $ 15,000 and started raising funds for Saïdou Diabaye of Parkdale and Djaliatou Kante of Scarborough, both with Down’s syndrome. Isaac, determined to outdo last year’s performance, mastered a new dance routine on Drake’s “What’s Next” and perfected his cart wheel. The The race on August 21 raised $ 16,360.
Bailey says her brother’s positive vibes are much needed these days. “This world, and especially in recent years, has been very isolating,” she says. “But Isaac reminds us of the importance of human connection… how a smile, wave or reminder that ‘you are awesome’ can go a long way.”
For Isaac, everything is very simple: “I like to make people happy.