Millions touched by story of young Utahn with Down syndrome learning to speak through music

Posted at 10:11 PM, Jan 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-20 00:11:43-05

HEBER CITY - When his big sister picks up the guitar and starts playing, all eyes are on 2-year-old Bo Gray.

The Heber City boy is capturing the hearts of millions around the world for a video of the pair that went viral.

"I was just playing, and he interrupted me, and I was like oh my gosh!" said Lydia Jones, Bo's sister.

Bo has Down syndrome, and the family therapist told the Grays that most babies like Bo don't learn to speak their first words until they are 4 or 5 years old. But a funny thing started happening as Lydia played her guitar.

"I screamed, 'Mom! He just said 'happy!'"" Lydia said with a smile.

The family recorded on their cell phones as Bo repeated the words again. That video spread like a wildfire online.

"I put my phone down for an hour, and when I came back I couldn't believe it," said Amanda Gray, the kids' mother.

It's not the first time that Bo has defied the odds. Bo was born with heart complications and needed surgery and three months of recovery in the hospital.

"All you hear is the monitors, and the rhythm with the beeping," Amanda Gray said.

So, the parents decided to bring in their guitar and sing a song to Bo instead. Both Amanda and her husband, Caleb, are musicians. They chose "You Are My Sunshine" as their song to sing.

"And he started to move and that was the first time I saw him react when we would sing," Amanda Gray said. "It blew us away.”

Bo's sister, Lydia, was moved by the song's impact too.

"I was like maybe I should work on that song because it seemed like he actually liked it," she said.

She practiced that song for three months, while Bo danced and moved his body to the rhythm. Then, something special began to happen. Bo said his very first word, and then his second and third. Within a month, Bo could say 12 words to the music.

"We are teaching him Row Row Row Your Boat so he can learn his name," Amanda Gray said. She means the first half of 'boat.'

The family says they're as surprised as anyone that the video has racked up more than 45 million hits in less than 5 days, but they hope Bo will serve as an inspiration that children with Down syndrome are capable of wonderful things.