Defying the odds: Ohio man who doctors said wouldn’t live past age 11 turns 62

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Joey's family is arranging a birthday parade in his honor on June 28

STRUTHERS, Ohio (WKBN) – Birthday parades have become pretty common recently and you can be a part of a very special one coming up.

Another year has passed for Joey Wittkugle from Struthers and he continues to beat all odds.

The day Joey was born, doctors told his mother, Bobbi, that he wouldn’t make it very far in life.

“The doctor came in and never asked my name and said to me, ‘You have to put him away. He’ll never talk. He’ll never walk. He’ll never know who you are. He will live to the age of 11 and that will be the end of it,'” Bobbi said.

She admits that it was hard back then for people to accept children with Down syndrome or other developmental disabilities.

“Sixty-two years ago, nobody knew about them and they kept them in the house. I mean, you did not have them out walking or one thing or another,” Bobbi said.

Bobbi said it was her priest who helped her realize that Joey was something special.

“Bobbi, you were gifted by God, you were chosen by God to have this child. You can’t turn your back on him. When he leaves you, then you will know the purpose of him coming to you,” said Bobbi, reflecting on what the priest told her.

Joey will turn 62 on Monday, June 29.

His family is arranging a birthday parade in his honor on June 28. You can join by meeting at the 5th Street Plaza in Struthers, near Save A Lot.

“To let people know that these children, these adults are just as human as you and I. They have feelings like we do. They give extra special love,” Bobbi said.

For Bobbi, who is now almost 90, it’s more than just another birthday. This marks another year that her son is defying the odds and showing others that he was no mistake.

“I want people to start understanding, when you see one of our children, don’t turn your back at them like they did years ago. They are human, they are special from God and please learn to love them as much as they love you,” she said.

The parade will leave at 2 p.m.

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