An Alabama resident with Down Syndrome — who got hired at the Birmingham, Alabama UPS facility as a seasonal package runner — has inspired UPS to make a donation of $25,000 towards Down Syndrome of Alabama.
Jake Pratt first landed a seasonal gig with UPS in December of 2020, and is now being asked to join the team permanently as a part-time employee. A UPS spokesperson told PEOPLE that the $25,000 donation will go towards establishing the Jake Pratt Fund, for scholarships for individuals with Down syndrome who want to pursue further education.
Pratt himself is a graduate of Clemson University’s LIFE program – a program designed to prepare young men and women with intellectual disabilities for competitive employment and independent living. LIFE offers a combination of academic coursework and career exploration.
Pratt’s sister Amy Hyde told PEOPLE that completing college was one of Pratt’s biggest dreams. “Post-secondary education was once not even a consideration for those with intellectual disabilities,” she says. “We are so proud of Jake and the way he serves as a role model to others.”
Back in December, a photo posted by Hyde on Twitter went viral. It was a photo of Pratt standing next to a UPS truck in his work uniform. She captioned the tweet “Thank you @UPS for giving my brother a chance & promoting inclusion in the workforce. Jake has Down Syndrome but that doesn’t stop him!”
According to Hyde, Pratt “wants to continue to raise awareness of the capabilities of people with Down syndrome and to be a positive role model for them and their loved ones.” And as for what’s next: “His next goals are to get his driver’s license (right now he has his permit), get his own house, and eventually get married to his girlfriend Grace.”
Watch the video below of Pratt’s family and friends — and his colleagues at UPS — discussing how proud they are of him.