Meet the Alabama Teen with Down Syndrome Who Is the CEO of an Ice Cream Truck
In rural Dawson, Alabama, Hunter Norwood is a bit of a rock star—and he has the ice cream suit to prove it.
The 19-year-old, who has Down syndrome, is CEO of A Little Something Extra, an ice cream truck staffed by a diverse team of “ice cream experts,” all of whom have disabilities.
“It’s the first ice cream truck of its kind in America,” his mom Michelle told AL.com.
The name of the business is a sweet nod to the extra chromosome that causes Down syndrome.
Small communities like Dawson, which has a population that teeters just above 1,000, don’t provide many opportunities for people like Hunter. Michelle, who works as a special education teacher, said that she used to worry that he “would never experience things that bring gratification, such as a paycheck and a job title.”
It was in 2017, while visiting her sister in Memphis, that Michelle patronized her first ice cream truck. That’s when she started dreaming about having a truck of her own—one that could employ Hunter and others with disabilities.
After months of research, A Little Something Extra finally hit the road in August of 2018.
The ice cream truck operates from March through October, traveling to businesses, nursing homes, schools, golf tournaments, birthday parties, and other special events. Hunter and his “ice cream experts,” sell 22 pre-packaged frozen items.
Over the past two years, two dozen young people have trained to work on the ice cream truck. Michelle says their abilities have blown her away.
“The whole goal is to give them an opportunity to socialize, be seen and valued,” she explained to AL.com. “I want the ice cream truck to be a tool for advocacy and awareness.”
In addition to being the CEO of the ice cream truck, Hunter is currently in the Year 13 program at his high school. From there, he dreams of one day attending Auburn University, where his big sister is a student. He hopes to be accepted to Auburn’s two-year EAGLES transitional program for students with intellectual disabilities, or, as his mom refers to them, “superpowers.”
“Hunter has so much more to offer the world than just sitting at home,” Michelle said.