Note: Series 1 of Life Goes On is available on DVD for Down Syndrome NSW members to borrow from our library.
Chris Burke, the actor with Down Syndrome best known for his role as “Corky” in the hit ABC-TV show Life Goes On made history as the first person with Down Syndrome to ever have his own TV show. Now he is trying to do it again, this time for kids with a new, inclusive kids show called Forever Friends. “Being in Life Goes On was great,” says Chris. “That show helped to change the way people see people with disabilities. But that was a long time ago. I want to do something for young kids today!”
That is why he has teamed up with fellow band members Joe and John DeMasi. Together they have written and produced the Forever Friends Show, a first of its kind in that it truly shows what an inclusive world looks like. “I have the ability to be your friend” says Chris. “That is the message I want to bring to the world.”
They have filmed two episodes so far which they have launched on web TV and which can be viewed for free at ForeverFriendsShow.org
The show features Chris, Joe and John, Feedback their pesky cat and Newton, their talking computer. Music videos from their award winning albums are highlighted along with a fun story. Sing along, sing along and celebrate abilities is their motto!
Chris teamed up with Joe and John DeMasi, long time friends and Chris’s music counselors right after he finished with Life Goes On. They went on to record four award winning albums and have toured the country extensively promoting their message of inclusion and ability awareness at the numerous concerts, schools, conferences and festivals they perform at every year. They decided to create a show for kids a few years ago and formed Creative Arts and Abilities, a not for profit they use to raise money to make the show. They teamed up with Buc Williams of Rissa Productions and are extremely excited to launch the Forever Friends Show. “While we have brought our message to hundreds of thousands of school children” says Joe, “we feel that a fun kids show is a great way to reach even more kids in this country and around the world.” “This is also a great way to continue the ground breaking work that Chris achieved with Life Goes On in helping to educate the world about what people with so called disabilities can do” says John. “Today, typical kids will run into kids with challenges”, says Chris “and we want to show them what an inclusive world looks like and that we can ALL be friends”.
That wasn’t the case for Chris when he was born back in August of 1965. The doctors advised Chris’s parents to place him in an institution and get on with their lives. The Burkes not only ignored that advise but treated Chris the same as his older siblings, a decision that has led to a remarkable life and talent! While Chris was forced to attend private schools because of the lack of public education for children with Down syndrome when he was growing up, he spent his summers at a camp on Long Island, NY for children with disabilities called Camp Anchor. This is where he met twin brothers Joe and John DeMasi, professional musicians and published songwriters who worked there as music counselors.
Although everyone at the camp was touched by the DeMasi’s music, it was Chris who became their biggest fan and closest friend. “I’ve always wanted to be an entertainer just like Donny Osmond”, says Chris. “To be able to have a music career with the guys who taught me all about music is a dream come true”!
Life Goes On was created after Burke landed the role of a boy with Down syndrome on the ABC-TV movie Desperate. His work so impressed the network executives that the show’s producer was asked to write a show with Chris in mind. The critically acclaimed drama series Life Goes On, which earned Burke a Golden Globe nomination aired on ABC from 1989-1993.
The Forever Friends Show is available for all to view on the web at ForeverFriendsShow.org. The trio are excited to get Chris back to acting and singing, things he loves to do and hope to be able to continue to raise money to create more episodes which will be available to the children of the world at any time with just the click of a mouse. “I love acting, I love singing” says Chris, “ and I love helping people. Remember, it’s not about your disability, it’s all about your ABILITIES that counts. Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal. Believe in yourself, work hard and never give up. That is my motto! We all have things we can’t do but be all have things to contribute and of course, we can ALL be Forever Friends!”
For more information, contact
John DeMasi 609-581-2641 email@example.com
Joseph DeMasi 701-845-2673 firstname.lastname@example.org
Or visit www.creativeartsandabilities.org or www.chrisburke.org