Valerio Catoia, 17, has amazed his family for years. He has Down Syndrome, but is more known for how he learned to swim when he was 3. His abilities have led him to the Special Olympics.

While at the beach in Lazio, Italy, Valerio heard two girls, who are 10 and 14, being carried out to sea by the strong tide they couldn’t overcome. The lessons Valero learned at a first aid course kicked in, and he dove in to position the younger sister so she could keep her head above the water, while his father did the same for the older sister.

Valero has received much accolades, including from the Italian Sports Minister and former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. As Aleteia reported, however, Valerio’s “trying to live his life as usual, but Italy has been talking about his heroic deed for days. He hasn’t changed, he says, but those around him have.”

That Valerio has an extra chromosome could have meant a death sentence in utero, especially if he was conceived in Iceland, which has bragged about “eradicating” virtually all of those diagnosed with Down Syndrome.

As Live Action News highlighted, abortions are allowed in Italy beyond 90 days, if the child has a fetal abnormality, like Down Syndrome. Many doctors, however, are unwilling to perform abortions. Perhaps they’ll be even less likely to, with the kind of sensation Valerio has become.

Our genetic traits or heroic abilities do not make us deserving of the right to life. It’s being human, whether we have Down Syndrome or not. Stories like Valerio’s are worth highlighting, as one human being went through lengths to save another. That Valerio may not have even been born to be able to save these girls gives us all reason to think about how we treat those in society who may be different from us.

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