Brandon Gruber, at age 23, has accomplished more in the way of helping others than many could hope to in a lifetime – and he has no indications of slowing down anytime soon.
Gruber, who has Down syndrome, has not been without obstacles in his short life. He recalled being bullied when he was young and not being accepted by other kids.
“I wanted to be friends with everyone,” he said. “Other people didn’t take a chance on me.”
Gruber took his negative experiences and not only learned from them – he wanted to be there for others who also felt alone or invisible.
“I was ready to make a change for other people,” he said.
He serves on the National Down Syndrome Society Board of Directors and travels throughout the U.S. for board meetings. Next, he will be going to Washington, D.C. Also a talented painter – he has taken lessons since second grade – he sells his creations of landscapes, lighthouses and other places he has traveled to raise money through his 321life+1 Project to support people who are disadvantaged. His mother, Teresa Gruber, estimated he has raised more than $40,000 to date.
Recently, Gruber has funded field trips for 50 students from Edna Hill Middle School, prom dresses for senior girls from Freedom, Liberty and San Juan high schools and enabled more than 100 students to have experiences at Village Community Resource Center, the Mad Potters and go on a hiking excursion. He also launched his own Diamond Awards program to honor students from elementary and middle schools in the Brentwood and Pajaro school districts.
For all his hard work and dedication, Gruber was honored with the Diana Award by the eponymous charity in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, on July 1.
“These exceptional young people have demonstrated their ability to inspire and mobilize new generations to serve their communities and create long lasting change on a global scale,” the award’s website states. “This is for the change makers.”
“I was pretty in shock,” he said of receiving the award.
Brandon and Teresa Gruber attended the Diana Award’s National Youth Mentoring Summit on July 2 in London, the first of its kind. He was excited to meet other young people who are doing good in their communities.
Next on his agenda is acting in a short movie, “Salute,” about a young man with Down syndrome who wants to join the military.
When asked how he has time to do so much – on top of making time for friends, family and hobbies – he shrugs and smiles.
“I find inspiration from other people,” he said. “It’s just me giving to the world.”
To learn more about Gruber and his projects, visit https://www.321life.com/.