Breaking Barriers: The story of Alfredo Jr. that paved the way to Tebow Down Guatemala

December 6 3 Minute Read????

Breaking Barriers: The story of Alfredo Jr. that paved the way to Tebow Down Guatemala

Hello December 6th, 2023

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"I'm so sorry."

Alfredo and Irene didn't expect to hear these words when they first introduced their precious baby boy to their community. Up until this moment, the Salazar family had been filled with excitement about their son, Alfredo Jr., as he was a miracle and answer to prayer for their family. But for a moment, the joy they felt was overshadowed by their community’s distressing response to learning their son had Down syndrome. The reality of how their son and so many others with disabilities were viewed in their country and culture suddenly filled them with concern for the future.

The Salazar’s were not deterred. They knew Alfredo Jr. was made in God's image and they were convinced that their son was created for an incredible purpose. What they didn't know was that Alfredo Jr.’s impact was going to bring life-giving hope to so many families across Guatemala.

"When Alfredo Jr. was receiving his therapy and we were waiting for his open-heart surgery, we started meeting other families. We asked them, 'What are you doing with your kid? Are you receiving support or information?' The answer was always 'No.' We realized that resources for individuals with disabilities were practically nonexistent. We understood that the need was huge and there was a lack of information and resources for families living with disability," shared Alfredo.


The Salazar family was in the midst of constructing their dream home - a home they had put their heart and soul into, using their resources and creativity to build a loving space for their family. It was during this time that Alfredo and Irene felt the Lord calling them to help families who were navigating the same path they were with Alfredo Jr. They were driven to start a non-profit that would bring resources to people with intellectual disabilities by providing education and therapy. But their obedience to answer the call didn't come without a cost. The Salazar family had to give up their dream home in exchange for building a lasting impact on other families who were in desperate need of encouragement, community, and resources for their children. This paved the way for the start of Down Guatemala.

"We wanted to do something not just for Alfredo Jr., but for all those children we'd been seeing in hospitals and different places. We wanted the best for all of them, so we started looking for the best speech therapy, the best physical therapist, the best special educators. That's why we have a staff that doesn't just do a job, they love these children. You can tell they love them," Alfredo shared.


When Alfredo and Irene crossed paths with the Tim Tebow Foundation (TTF), their hopes for their son Alfredo Jr. and other children with intellectual disabilities continued to grow. At first, their ministry reached children and adults with Down syndrome, but when they boldly registered to host Night to Shine 2018, a prom night experience for people with special needs sponsored by TTF, it opened more opportunities to provide additional resources across the country of Guatemala. The Lord moved in the relationship and in 2021, Down Guatemala officially became Tebow Down Guatemala, a ministry of the Tim Tebow Foundation.

"The programs provided by Tebow Down Guatemala bring hope and a future, not just for the students but for their families as well. If they have the ability to use a calculator, to read, to write, they will have an opportunity to get a job in the future. It's about families finding hope, and they will be able to see a different future for their children," said Alfredo.

Together as one, we have expanded to four schools across the country and are blessed to now be serving over 450 families in Guatemala. The impact of Tebow Down Guatemala has been nothing short of transformative and we praise God for His continued faithfulness. In the original space in Guatemala City alone, we have grown from serving 55 students to 137 students and the need for a larger, more encompassing campus has become evident. Every week, we receive calls from families urgently seeking a spot for their child. However, due to limited space, we have been left with no other option but to add these incredible families to an extensive online waiting list. This breaks our hearts as our desire is to be able to not only come alongside every single family who reaches out, but also be able to provide a spot for their child to receive therapy and education.


This is why, together, we began to dream about a new model campus that could serve many more families. This new campus in Guatemala City will provide enough space to reach up to 250 students and their families every single day. It is designed as a comprehensive hub where individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities will be able to access a wide range of services and resources. The campus will include additional classrooms for music, speech, and physical therapies to take place. There will also be a space to host workshops and art lessons. Additionally, we will have more space to teach essential life skills and offer vocational opportunities as students continue to grow, learn, and thrive in their communities.


Matthew 5:14 says, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden." Just as a city on a hill stands out and cannot be concealed, we too are called to shine God's light and reach some of the Most Vulnerable People in Guatemala, the MVP’s. But we also believe that we are stronger when we come together and can't do this work alone. We need the help of our TTF Giving Family to bring Faith, Hope and Love to so many more image-bearers.

Our hope and prayer is that one day we will live in a world where instead of families hearing, "I'm so sorry," when they introduce their child to their community, they are embraced, celebrated, and equipped with the love, support, and resources they need. As we come together to build this life-giving campus in Guatemala City, will you join us in praying for the many families who will be walking through our doors? Will you consider giving towards this campus and being a part of impacting the lives of so many incredible people with disabilities in Guatemala? See Them.

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