Boy with Down Syndrome Gets Huge Surprise when He Receives Acceptance Letter from Clemson

Ellen's Good News

Rion Holcombe couldn't believe he was accepted into Clemson University, even with the letter in his hands to prove it.

Holcombe, 20, has Down Syndrome, and read the note in front of a video his parents posted to YouTube.

"I got accepted?!" He said in disbelief when his father pointed out that the letter began with a congratulatory note. "They said yes!?... That's crazy!"

His smile couldn't have stretched further.

According to, Holcombe is a fifth-year senior at Dorman High School in Roebuck, South Carolina, and was accepted into the Clemson Life Program. The program is a two-year study that "teaches independent living skills to young adults with a wide range of disabilities." Students learn homemaking, personal finance, social skills and job training among other courses.

"I've been thinking about (going to Clemson) for forever," Rion told the site.


Both of Rion's parents were Clemson Tigers, and his best friend Megan Pehling was also accepted into the program. They've known each other since they met at the swimming pool when they were 9 years old.

"We were very excited for him, but it's very difficult for us because we've always taken care of him," said Danny Holcombe, Rion's father.

Neither he nor wife Susan expected Rion to have the opportunity to go to college, and while they don't have savings in place, they are finding a way to make it work.

Susan commented, "I want the maximum experience Rion can get in everything. I'm telling all the young parents (of children with disabilities), start saving now because you never know what will be available in ten years."

Congrats to Rion!

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