Like many students who stand out, Richard Joyce credits his family with making him the young man he is today. But Joyce’s situation is truly unique.

Joyce, who is graduating from Cheverus High School in Portland, is a fraternal triplet, born one minute ahead of his two sisters, Madeleine and Isabella. They are identical twins who have a rare genetic disorder called CDK13, which causes a variety of developmental, physical and intellectual disabilities.

“Obviously, a lot of my parents’ time and attention has had to go to my sisters,” Joyce said. “I’ve had to take on a parent role early in life and it has been challenging. But I would not change a thing because I truly believe they have made me a better person.”

His sisters are his biggest fans, too. They attend every one of his sports events, talking about it for days in advance, cheering him on through the game and often holding a sign saying, “Go, Richard!” Madeleine attends the special education program at Deering High School in Portland and Isabella attends the Margaret Murphy Center in Saco.

“They may not be able to do everything I do, but they do everything to their best potential,” Joyce said. “They’re living their best lives, just like I am.”

Joyce is a top student, president of his class and the Spanish Club, captain of the basketball and golf teams, and a student retreat leader. In those roles, he has tried to fulfill the Cheverus mission to be “a person for and with others,” he said. For him, that means being honest, trustworthy and compassionate.

Under his leadership, students stepped up fundraising for local charities and revamped school spirit week to focus on helping others, he said. At a recent retreat Joyce was leading, a classmate who often wore bow ties shared that she was gay and sometimes fearful when she was at school. Seniors on the retreat decided to wear bow ties when they returned to school, to show support and solidarity, even after other students teased them about it.

Throughout high school, Joyce has worked part time at the Portland Country Club and volunteered weekly at STRIVE, a South Portland nonprofit that serves teens and young adults with intellectual and emotional disabilities. He plans to study business management or finance at Boston College.

“There are so many opportunities to lead business in the right direction and have a positive effect on the community,” Joyce said. “I’m so lucky to be where I am, to be raised in the family I have, and to be going to college. So I’m going to try to make a difference. That could take me anywhere.”

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