A Life of Delight, Surprise, and Inspiration

Louis “Louie” Rotella IV’s unfiltered and unfettered approach to life is a constant source of inspiration to his family

This article is an excerpt from Down Syndrome World magazine, a publication of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation. To receive Down Syndrome World, become a member of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation today at www.DownSyndromeWorld.org

Rotella FamilyFourteen-year-old Louie IV was born into baking royalty — his family has owned and operated Rotella’s Italian Bakery Inc. in Omaha, Nebraska, since 1921. When Louie was born with Down syndrome, his great-grandfather and the family’s patriarch, Louis Rotella Sr., provided the reassurance the boy’s parents needed.

“Right after the doctors told us Louie had DS, Louis Sr. tapped me on the cheek like full-blooded Italians do, looked me in the eyes, and said, ‘Keep your head up. Things are going to be fine,’ ” Louie’s dad, Louis III, said. “That was a huge relief. He let me know we had the whole family’s support from the very beginning.”

‘Life doesn’t need to be so complicated’

Louie’s support network now includes his siblings, 12-year-old Mia and 7-year-old Niko.

“Mia is a most intelligent girl who greatly benefits from Louie’s presence and helps my husband and me manage his Type I diabetes,” said Louie’s mom, Jill. “Niko enjoys being around Louie but has to be patient at times when he tries to play with his brother.”

Life in the Rotella home resembles that of most families in many respects.

“We do lots of typical things as a family, including going to church, family functions, sporting events, and out to eat,” Jill said. “Louie — and all of us — are lucky to have such a strong support system in each other.”

Jill marvels at her oldest son’s uninhibited, unbiased outlook.

“Louie teaches us that life doesn’t need to be so complicated; it can be simple and pure,” she said. “He is one of the only students in his middle school class who blows kisses to his mother at school in the morning.”

Louie loves swimming, music, and dancing and at tends a full-inclusion school. His first method of communication was American Sign Language, and he remains so fond of it that he hopes to help teach it in a daycare one day. In the meantime, he’ll keep delighting, surprising, and inspiring a family that can’t imagine life without him.

A Love Story

Little King and His Marshmallow KingdomLouis Rotella III and Louis “Louie” IV share more than a name and the love of father and son — they’re also forever linked by a creative advocacy project.

In 2010, Louis III published The Little King and His Marshmallow Kingdom, a children’s book he wrote based on his son’s life that teaches young readers about the beauty of differences in others and the value of acceptance.

“Writing the book was a way to honor Louie IV and say, ‘I love you,’” Louis III said. “The book conveys that it’s perfectly fine to be unique and that uniqueness should be celebrated. Louie and I got to do a lot together because of the project, like give presentations and sign autographs. Our bond grew stronger, as did our message to others.”

The Little King and His Marshmallow Kingdom (Ata-Boy Productions Inc., 2010) is available at Amazon

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