NAMPA, Idaho — Charlie and Milo McConnel are just three years old, but they are already social media stars. These adorable twin boys live in Nampa, and they both happen to have Down syndrome.
They have thousands of Facebook followers, and to 20,000 of their fans on Instagram, they are known as @chucklesandmeatloaf. Their proud parents told KTVB how these adorable boys were able to become social media stars.
“They are just nicknames. We had a lot of nicknames for them, the ones that stuck? Chuckles and Meatloaf. We have followers all over the world, I don't even know how many countries, just all over the place and it's been really fun,” their mom Julie McConnel said.
Julie and Dan McConnel are sharing their beautiful boys with the world on social media to help break the stigma of having children with Down syndrome.
“My hope is to attract families that are receiving a diagnosis of Down syndrome for their child because that can be really scary. I hope that people will find us, and see that this is what life can be like," Julie said. "It can be fun, it's full of love, it's not scary. We have no regrets, and there is so much joy in our lives, and I hope that people will see that,"
This Nampa couple says they were stunned and excited to find out they were having twins. But, the diagnosis of Down syndrome for their boys was something they weren't prepared for.
“It was shocking and it was terrifying, and it took a while for us to come to grips with that diagnosis. I reached out, what I did is reach out on social media," Julie said.
She found amazing support from other moms.
She says raising her precious boys has been filled with so much love, and some challenges too.
“It takes them a little longer to meet milestones, but when they meet goals we celebrate like no other parents alive," she said. "We throw a party and we're so excited for them when they accomplish those things.”
Julie posts many of those joys and struggles on the boys’ social media pages, and now she is the mom people are reaching out to for wisdom.
“I'm always happy when I get a message that says hey we just got a diagnosis of Down syndrome and your page has been really encouraging," Julie said. "I'm so happy to have a conversation or meet for coffee or whatever they need.”
Charlie and Milo are actually fraternal twins, not identical. Julie says that makes them even rarer.
“What I've found it's about one in a million to have identical twins with down syndrome, and it's about one in 14 million to have fraternal twins with down syndrome! It's really remarkable and just a double lottery win in our minds," she said.
On March 21, families in the Treasure Valley celebrated World Down Syndrome Awareness Day on the blue turf of Albertsons Stadium at Boise State University. The McConnels were thrilled to be a part of it with so many other families in the Valley.
“It is on March 21, because Down syndrome occurs when you have a third copy of the twenty-first chromosome so it always happens on 3/21," Julie said.
“It's this big day to show everyone else that we are here, and there are all these kids in our community, and we hope that they will see us and remember us and that things will continue to change in our communities with lots of acceptance," Dan said.
“We're standing on the shoulders of other parents that have paved the way for all these things to happen and it's an exciting time to have a child with Down syndrome," Julie said. "I want to see them grow up and do whatever they want to do."
In the meantime, Charlie and Milo will continue to inspire people around the globe, with their social media photos, videos, and stories.
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