Tony Piontek was born in Guayama, Puerto Rico, on the island’s Caribbean south coast. He lived there happily for seven years, but they were also difficult years. He needed annular pancreas surgery at birth and then was diagnosed with Acute Myelomonocytic Leukemia (an adult form of leukemia) at age three. After four years of very aggressive chemotherapy and radiation, he was finally in remission, very healthy, strong and starting school — in Spanish! When Tony was seven, he and his family moved to New Iberia, Louisiana, and Tony was able to complete his education through high school as a combination regular education/special education student in “Cajun Country.” He is the youngest of seven children. He is an Eagle Scout. He is an International multi-gold medalist in Aquatics. He has Mosaic Down Syndrome.
Piontek currently works at Lowe’s Home Improvement Center as a Customer Service Associate loader, taking care of loading and unloading items for customers and parking lot safety. He’s often called on to work as a “floater” to work in other departments such as the Lawn & Garden Center, Lumber, Paint, Receiving, Appliances or off site Delivery. He’s even trained as an Escort/Spotter for powered equipment and specially trained to take care of chemical and haze mat spills. Piontek celebrated his four year anniversary at Lowe’s in February 2015. He enjoys working where he can help people and he likes to make people feel welcomed and comfortable.
His family has had a membership in the Down Syndrome Association of Acadiana (DSAA) since 2004 when it was founded. Since 2007, Piontek has been active as the Self Advocate on the Board of Directors and the Advisory Board to present time. His most important job is to be a VOICE for all families who have children with Down syndrome. He has been a staff member for DSAA’s Buddy Walks, Santa at Christmas parties, sender of birthday greetings to members, activities photographer, and generally helps in any way he can. DSAA’s Self Advocate cooking program, “COOL! I CAN COOK”, even gave him an opportunity to be a VOICE for Down syndrome on live television with some renowned chefs.
In 2008 the DSAA sent Piontek to attend the National Down Syndrome Congress Convention and that has challenged him in the years that followed to do Convention panels, present at workshops, and eventually run for the NDSC Board of Directors. He was elected to the NDSC Board and served from 2011- 2014. Currently, he is the Co-Coordinator for the Greeters Program, on the Speakers’ Bureau and on the Development, Team Tandem, Self-Advocate Council & Delegates Committees via email and conference calls.
“My role as a VOICE continues. When you see me let’s talk.” – Tony Piontek