'He puts a smile on everyone's face': Reid Demelo was a hit with classmates before viral video
Port Moody student Reid Demelo become a social media sensation after sinking a buzzer-beating 3-pointer
It's lunch time at Heritage Woods Secondary School. And if you walk to the end of the hallway, there is one guy everyone's gathered around.
His name is Reid Demelo.
He's the 18-year-old Port Moody, B.C. high school who sunk a buzzer-beating three-pointer at a basketball tournament. The video taken court side went viral.
But Demelo was a star well before the video made the rounds. His classmates and teachers say he's always been a happy student who brings out the best in the people around him.
Watch Demelo's buzzer beating shot
"I can't think of anyone who is more popular than Reid, everyone knows Reid and he knows everyone," said Grade 12 student Apolline De Schaetzen.
De Schaetzen said Demelo has an "extra spark" that brings out the best in people.
"No matter what kind of day you're having he will come up to you and give you a hug and that feeling is so empowering," she said.
"He is always there to put a smile on your face."
His mother, Jana Demelo, said she wasn't surprised he made the three-pointer, but the reaction from the students was unexpected and the publicity over the video has been a surprise.
Demelo said after the news coverage her son came home and asked, "Mom, why do they keep saying I have Down syndrome on Instagram?"
She said she was thrown by the question but after some reflection realized it was because the family never used labels with Reid.
'I love my family'
Reid Demelo has been playing basketball since he was five, and volunteers as the senior boys team manager. But students say he is always there to cheer others on whether on a basketball court or in drama class.
"His energy just makes everyone happy," said Oliver Hopewell, a Grade 11 student.
And if there is anything Demelo likes more than basketball, it's eating sandwiches and giving shout outs to family and friends.
"I love my family, I love my friends," he said, right before naming off a bunch of his peers who circled around him during the break.
Heritage Woods principal Todd Clerkson said people are drawn to Demelo.
"That reaction happened because he is a special person in this school not because he has special needs," Clerkson said. "He has a big social group because of his personality and that's what's important."
"Kids love him for who he is, not because of what he has."
His mother an advocate
Demelo's mother, Jana, who is a physical education teacher at another school, says she always tried to sign her son up for programs so he wouldn't be alone.
"If other kids are signing up for this and going to do that, then so are you," Jana Demelo recalls thinking.
"Here is my child, talk to him and treat him like you would everyone else," she said.
Demelo says it wasn't always easy to advocate to get him into classes with other students.
"My hope as a parent was that he would be accepted by others, ultimately he was celebrated and that far exceeded anything," she said.
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