Houston 5-year-old in Down syndrome restaurant flap makes a national impact, draws Anderson Cooper
Kim Castillo, her husband Eric and their 5-year-old son Milo are regulars at Laurenzo's Prime Rib on Washington Avenue . . . but there was something off about their meal on Jan. 16.
"Dinner at Laurenzo's and a family of four asked to be moved from the booth next to us," Castillo wrote on Facebook later in the evening. "I didn't think that much about it. Shortly after, they left the restaurant entirely, glancing at our table as they left. (Thought I was being paranoid.)"
"We always knew [Milo] would impact more people than just us. He is a pretty special dude and has opened a lot of people's ideas about Down syndrome."
Milo, who was born with Down syndrome, was having a great time that night, telling the wait staff about his birthday and sharing some new words he learned.
Apparently irritated by the noise, a nearby family asked to be moved to another table, telling their waiter Michael Garcia that "special needs kids should be kept in special places." Offended by the comment, Garcia refused to serve them.
Soon Garcia and Milo found themselves launched into the national news circuit with outlets from Anderson Cooper to Todayfeaturing their story.
CultureMap caught up with Castillo to talk about her family's jump into the limelight.
"It feels oddly natural — at least where Milo is concerned," she explained in a recent email.
"We always knew he would impact more people than just us. He is a pretty special dude and has opened a lot of people's ideas about Down syndrome, use of the R-word and tolerance for people who are different."
The Castillos are in the process of designing #TeamMilo shirts to raise funds for the Rise School of Houston — the unique school that Milo attends and the city's only institution devoted to the early education of infants, toddlers and pre-school children born with Down syndrome.