Woman with Down syndrome dreams of black belt milestone

BILLERICA, Mass. -- A 26-year-old with Down syndrome has been studying karate for thirteen years and is trying for a major milestone, without any concession for her disability.

It's any Friday morning at Alan Kessler's Karate Center in Billerica, Massachusetts. Warming up in the gym is longtime student Dana Margossian.

But it's not just any ordinary day for Dana. She sparred with her dad, getting ready to test for her fourth degree black belt in front of a panel of judges.

"When I'm in front of the board, it's a little nerve-wracking," she said.

"She's a very determined young lady. When she decides what she wants to do and she makes up her mind, she does it," Dana's father said.

And consider this: though Dana has Down syndrome, she does not want any modifications to the rigorous requirements. She wants to be treated just like any other student would.

"She's judged on whether or not she knows the curriculum. If she doesn't know the curriculum, she doesn't pass. There are no modifications. None. You know it or you don't," Dana said.

She said it is hard to remember but, "I know I can do it. I can ace it."

Life has not been easy. WCVB reports Dana lost her mom a few years ago.

"I bet my mom is watching me from above," she said.

Mom is watching her daughter's drive and determination. No disability, but using her ability to reach her goal.

"The problem isn't setting the bar too high and failing, it's setting it too low and achieving," Dana's father said.

Dana has also competed in the Special Olympics.

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