VESTAVIA HILLS, AL (WBRC) - He greeted me at his front door with a smile and a hug, proudly wearing his Clemson Life T-shirt. Jake Pratt wasn't quite sure why the TV cameras had arrived, but he knew something was up. That something was a scholarship that was about to be awarded to him via the Ruby's Rainbow foundation, a national non-profit that awards college scholarships to young adults with Down syndrome who are furthering their careers.
As Jake listened intently, Mary Alayne Long, representing Ruby's Rainbow, surprised Jake with his scholarship. Jake grinned, shouted and gave us a little dab. That's my buddy Jake: Upbeat, funny, kind and a future college student. Years ago no one would believe it - a kid with Down syndrome going to college, let alone graduating from high school. But great strides have been made in educating those with special needs, and thanks to Vestavia Hills teacher Jennifer Greer, along with a determined Pratt family, Jake will head to Clemson's Life College, where he will learn to become independent. While it's a nervous time for Jay and Kathy Pratt, it's an exciting time for Jake, as on August 18th he will head north.
In less than one year, Jake Pratt has exploded onto the national scene - that after his sister Amy Tweeted out his amazing touchdown run for Vestavia Hills as the Rebs hosted Briarwood Christian. Since then, Jake has been on ESPN, he's met Dado Swinney, Nick Saban, Gus Malzahn, Gene Stallings and dozens of Tide and Tiger players. Along the way he has graced Facebook, Twitter, and social newspapers statewide. Now he's heading off to college, ready to take the next step in his amazing journey.
I'll miss Jake Pratt, but I promised I will visit him over Christmas. I sent my own son off to college a few years back and my heart ached. My daughter heads to college next summer. And in less than two weeks, a young man I consider my adopted son heads north. I'm proud of Jake, and I know he's in for a great future. I'm glad to see that Jake was awarded a scholarship. He will make the Ruby's Rainbow people proud.