A Mom Pays Grown Men To Hang Out With Her Son Who Has Down Syndrome Because He Struggled To Make Friends

She wanted to give her son the opportunity to be surrounded by friends and have a support system full of love!

Jose, Christian Bowers, Donna Herter's Facebook post Facebook

A Missouri mom has received love from her community after sharing a post online about how her son has been struggling to make friends.

Helen Berter decided to take to Facebook to give her 24-year-old son, Christian Bowers, who has Down Syndrome, a chance to make some friends in his adulthood. However, Berter was unaware of just how much of an impact her son's story would have on others.

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Berter hired men to hang out with her son who has Down syndrome and is struggling to form friendships.

In early February 2021, Berter decided to reach out to the Facebook community and shared that she was looking for a "young man" to spend two hours twice a month with her son, Bowers. She would even pay them $80 every two hours.

"I’m looking for a young man, between the ages of 20-28 who would like to make some extra money. Two days a month for two hours, I’ll pay you to be my son’s friend. All you have to do is sit with him and play video games in his room," Berter's post read. 

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She explained that he doesn't have many friends his age, and struggles to connect with people. In her post, she continued, writing that Bowers wouldn't have any idea that she was paying people to hang out with him, and he would not be home alone during these visits.

According to the National Down Syndrome Society, most children with Down Syndrome seem to be well included and to have friends during their primary school years, but friendships in their teenage and adult years can be more of an issue.

In an interview with TODAY, Berter explained that Bowers had many friends in high school, but when he entered his adult years, he found it difficult to maintain these friendships. 

After he graduated high school, his desire to have friendships grew and he would often ask his mother, "When are my friends coming over?" Berter, who didn't have an answer for her son, decided to write the Facebook post as a solution.


"I wondered, what if I pay a local man who is looking for extra money to hang out with Christian twice a month?" she told TODAY. "I thought it would help both of them out."

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Berter's social media post immediately blew up, and she received loads of responses.

After Berter's Facebook post went live, the very next morning she was shocked to see how many positive messages she'd received about the inquiry. She had received so many invitations that she ended up having to purchase a day planner to organize Bowers' schedule.

While speaking with KMOV, Berter revealed Bowers was surprised by a visit from members of the St. Louis nonprofit, STL Youth Sports Outreach, as well as eight police officers from St. Charles, Missouri, and other nearby towns.


The men all visited Bowers to eat pizza and cookies that were donated by a restaurant and bakery. Bowers even has future plans to go bowling with military police trainees and visit three local fire departments.

"The love being shown to our son is amazing," Berter told TODAY. "Christian says having friends over feels like heaven. He goes to bed with a smile on his face and when he talks to himself, I know he is replaying everything." Berter admitted that the pain of watching your child struggle "doesn't lessen with time [and] gets harder." 

"Christian says, 'Hey Mommy when I turn 25, I want my driver's license,' but that will never happen. Or he'll say, 'When I am married and have kids' or 'When I move out...' but he isn't high-functioning enough to live on his own."


While she knows that this isn't a permanent fix to Bowers' struggle with making friends, she still hopes that some of these men will stick around for, hopefully, a long time.

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics.