Man with Down Syndrome Who Got Job at UPS Lands Permanent Position, Inspires Scholarship
"It's incredible to see Jake's impact on others as he continues to live out his dreams," Amy Hyde tells PEOPLE of her brother
Jake Pratt, the Alabama resident with Down syndrome who landed a gig at UPS last year, is continuing to make strides at the nationwide delivery service.
After getting hired at the Birmingham, Alabama UPS facility in December 2020 as a seasonal package runner, a UPS spokesperson confirms to PEOPLE that Pratt, 22, has now been asked to join the team permanently as a part-time employee.
In addition to his new role, Pratt, a 2020 graduate of Clemson University's LIFE program, has inspired UPS to make a $25,000 donation to the nonprofit organization Down Syndrome of Alabama, the spokesperson says.
That donation will go towards establishing the Jake Pratt Fund for scholarships for individuals with Down syndrome who want to pursue further education.
"College was one of Jake's biggest dreams and he worked so hard to make it come true," Pratt's sister, Amy Hyde, tells PEOPLE. "Post-secondary education was once not even a consideration for those with intellectual disabilities. But now, specialized college and vocational programs are sprouting up all over the country."
"The expense of these programs can be a huge burden to families who often didn't imagine educational opportunities beyond high school," she continues. "Knowing that part of Jake's legacy will include helping those individuals and families bring us more joy than I can explain."
"There simply aren't words to adequately express the emotions that come with this achievement," adds Hyde. "We are so proud of Jake and the way he serves as a role model to others."
Back in December, Pratt became a viral sensation when Hyde posted a photo of him on Twitter standing next to a UPS truck in his work uniform.
In the tweet, she explained that her brother works every morning at a golf course from 6-10 a.m. before running packages for up to eight hours per day.
"Thank you @UPS for giving my brother a chance & promoting inclusion in the workforce. Jake has Down Syndrome but that doesn't stop him!" she wrote beside the photo. "I'm so proud of him!"
At the time, Hyde told PEOPLE that she was so thrilled to see UPS giving her brother a chance because it was "his dream to be able to live independently."
"He has achieved so much, but none of it would be possible without people embracing him and giving him a chance," she said at the time. "Jake is so worthy and capable, so it's just awesome for others to be able to see that."
Pratt's greatness has certainly been evident to UPS's team. In the months since that day, Pratt has continued to impress his colleagues with his work ethic and "enigmatic personality," the UPS spokesperson says.
UPS driver Richard Wilson, who Pratt worked alongside, said Pratt "changed his life" and added in a video shared by the company that "Jake can motivate me any day."
In that same video, Steve Young, the building manager at UPS Birmingham, added: "He fit in from day one. He's done everything we've asked and he's a very capable individual and we are impressed with what he's done so far."
Speaking to PEOPLE, Hyde echoes those remarks from her brother's colleagues.
"One of his coworkers told me that Jake inspires everyone at his facility and that his positive attitude has 'breathed new life' into the entire crew," Hyde notes. "It's just incredible to see Jake's impact on others as he continues to live out his dreams."
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So what's next for Jake?
"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," Hyde says. "Grace is currently a student with the Auburn University EAGLES program. He is saving money for her ring and their future."
"He also 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," the proud sister adds.
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