Podcast delves into lives of adults with Down syndrome

Mike Messina and Dino Tripodis sitting in a bar
Mike Messina, left, is featured in Extraordinarily Ordinary, a first-ever podcast series from the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio. Radio personality Dino Tripodis, right, hosts.

Though he had no experience with podcasts, Mike Messina instantly felt comfortable with the idea behind Extraordinarily Ordinary, a new podcast series from the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio.

Messina stars in the first episode, grabbing a beer with Sunny 95 deejay Dino Tripodis. The two talk (and laugh) about life for 40 minutes or so. “It was pretty awesome,” said Messina, a 41-year-old who lives and works in northwest Columbus. “It seems like a lot of people love it.”

All six episodes, hosted by Tripodis, focus on adults with Down syndrome as they discuss jobs, college, independent living, romance, family, goals and dreams.

“These adults have important life lessons that they share with those who live and work with them every day,” Tripodis said. “Having now taken the time to listen, I feel fortunate to have learned from them.”

Marilyn Messina, Mike’s mom, said revealing the “regular” aspects of life comes naturally to her son. Mike started working at age 16, lives on his own and is expert at using Uber and Lyft. “Being ‘regular’ is just part of how he was raised,” she said.

Having a job that’s near his home, and in a fairly walkable community with restaurants and businesses nearby, also can boost quality of life, the Messinas say. Going to the same places and seeing familiar faces makes it easier to create friendships.

Mike said he wants younger people with disabilities to know that there are lots of ways to achieve more independence. “I like to do things on my own rather than depend on my family,” he said.

Marilyn said she’ll be happy if the podcast offers a dose of hope to parents raising young children with Down syndrome. “They need that extra lift sometimes,” she said, smiling. “To know that, one day, your kid is just gonna be another guy in a bar having a beer with a friend.”

Episodes have been released on PodBean, Spotify, Amazon Music and also are available at www.dsaco.net/podcastseries