Hamburg brothers with Down Syndrome reaching new goals

HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB)- Elijah and Gabriel Coffee are your typical kindergartners.

They both have Down Syndrome, but their adoptive parents Kristen and David Coffee told News 4 they’re like all five-years-old boys; rambunctious, silly, and sometimes hard to control.

“They’ve really started to understand what it means to be social and what it means to interact with their peers,” Kristen said.

The Coffee boys had a rough start in life, both needing heart surgery as infants. Now though, Kristen and David said they keep reaching new goals.

One of the goals they accomplished this year was going to a general education school.

“We try to set their expectations high because if you set them too low, they’ll never get anywhere,” David told News 4.

The boys started kindergarten this fall at Boston Valley in Hamburg. This summer Gabriel, or “Gab” as his parents call him, played his first season of baseball.

“They fit right in with the small group here, and they’re able to join the whole entire kindergarten for specials like music and art and library,” said Gabriel and Elijah’s teacher, Jennifer Wittmeyer.

News 4 first met Elijah and Gabriel last year; David told us they’ve come leaps and bounds since then.

Both boys love school, something Kristen doesn’t take for granted, especially because going to a school like Boston Valley wasn’t always an option for children with Down Syndrome.

“I think even five years ago, children were still going to just a very specific program for children with Down Syndrome or other disabilities. And now slowly, we’re seeing them being included,” she said.

The Coffee boys are quite a hit at Boston Valley, their teachers told us they’re social butterflies; Gab is even pals with the principal.

Kristen hopes her sons’ progress is a reminder to parents of how capable kids with Down Syndrome are. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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