The 12th Annual Buddy Walk for Down Syndrome Awareness will be held Saturday, Sept. 29, at the East Tennessee State University soccer warm-up field.
The event opens at 10 a.m. with last minute registrations and T-shirt pickup. The walk and other activities will be from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Besides the walk itself, there will be carnival type games for the children, including inflatables, music by DJ Alan Dotson, professional face painting and a balloon artist. Lite snacks and drinks will be served. There will be an “Imagine the Possibilities” tent displaying accomplishments of those with Down syndrome and a new parent tent with information and resources. Special prizes will be awarded to top fundraisers.
The Buddy Walk is held in hundreds of cities across the country in the month of October. October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month. The Buddy Walk began in 1995 by the National Down Syndrome Society to promote inclusion and understanding of individuals with Down syndrome. The local organizer is FRIENDS, or Friends Reaching, Inspiring, Educating Neighbors about Down Syndrome, an advocacy and awareness group serving families affected by Down syndrome in northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia.
Individuals with Down syndrome are encouraged to invite “buddies” — everyone from friends and family to teachers, legislators and celebrities — to join them on the Buddy Walk. Every participant helps promote the importance of understanding, acceptance and awareness. Whether you have Down syndrome, know someone who does, or just want to show your support, come out and join the Buddy Walk.
The majority of the money raised by FRIENDS through the Buddy Walk stays in this area for: New Parent Packets, given to parents of babies with Ds in the hospital, including a book, resource list and gift; Four seasonal activities for all the families within the organization; Snak n Yak, a monthly event for teens and young adults with Ds, teaching them life skills and having a good social opportunity; Tots to Twelve, activities for preteens down to babies; A Special Olympics team for those who can no longer participate through school; Mom’s Night Out for mothers to share and network; and other endeavors such as educational conferences and speakers. The rest of the funds raised go to the National Down Syndrome Society to be used in education and research.
Down syndrome affects people of all ages, races and economic levels. It is the most frequently occurring chromosomal abnormality, occurring once in approximately every 733 live births. Over 350,000 people in the United States alone have Down syndrome.
Come to the Buddy Walk on Saturday, Sept. 29, at ETSU Soccer Warm-up field. Everybody can be a Buddy! For information on how to register, call Jana Webb at 946-3734 or go to www.dsfriends.net and follow the Buddy Walk link.