Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic
Emily Strohm
November 12, 2013 10:15 AM

After living with her uncle Pierce for years, Savannah Guthrie pays tribute to who she calls the “important figure in her life” for an NBC special.

As a part of “#Inspired By,” a weeklong series that honors the personal heroes of the Today show anchors, Guthrie shares how her uncle, who had Down syndrome, continues to inspire her.

“We adored him,” says Guthrie of her Uncle Pierce, who passed away in the late ’90s. “I just thought he would be the perfect person to highlight because he really proved that no matter what challenges you face in life, you can rise above them and flourish.”

After Pierce and Guthrie’s grandmother moved in with her family while she was in high school, they formed a close bond. “When Pierce was born I don’t even know if they had the term ‘Down syndrome,’ ” she says. “My grandmother was told that he would never walk or talk, but they poured their lives into him and he was such a huge part of our family.”

“The years that my grandmother and uncle lived with us are so precious to me,” Guthrie recalls. “When you grow up with someone who has these challenges it makes you more sensitive to the people in your world who are struggling.”

With the cause so close to home, Guthrie was inspired to share her story on air. “I hope that if someone sees the story and they encounter someone with Down syndrome, I hope that they will … give that person an opportunity to share themselves because they are truly extraordinary people. Anyone who knows will say that there is just something really special about this community of people.”

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