Mark your calendars for Saturday, October 11, 2014, and come to Indianapolis to walk with Sophia and her team in the 17th annual Down Syndrome Indiana Buddy Walk!!!
The Buddy Walk is a 2.6 mile, no-fee, walk around the canal, located in the White River State Park. Festivities usually start around 9 am at Celebration Plaza, and the walk begins at noon. This family-friendly event is open to all children and adults with Down syndrome, their families, friends and thousands of local supporters.
The Buddy Walk was established in 1995 by the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) as an event to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome. Walks usually occur in October in observance of Down Syndrome Awareness Month.
Nationally, the Buddy Walk is the most widely recognized public awareness program for the Down syndrome community. Locally, it is currently the largest fundraising event for Down Syndrome Indiana, with this year's goal set at $230,000!
The Buddy Walk has three primary goals:
* To promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome
* To raise funds locally and nationally for education, research and advocacy programs
* To enhance the position of the Down syndrome community, enabling us to positively influence local and national policy and practice.
Proceeds from the walk help fund Down Syndrome Indiana programs and services that help individuals with Down syndrome and their families. These programs and services include, but are not limited to:
* New Parent Information and Resource Packets - We received one of these packets while Sophia was at Riley Children's Hospital. It contains a book of some kind featuring children/adults with Down syndrome and usually stories from their families. It has a lot of information about resources, and things to think about after your take your baby home.
* Educators' Resources - We also received one of these from Down Syndrome Indiana, upon request, and it contained a few children's books to read to your child's class. As well as books that help you as the parent, and the child's teacher, know how to better teach math and reading to children with Down syndrome.
* Social Activities - Down Syndrome Indiana puts on a lot of events for the Down syndrome community. They have dances, picnics, and outings all over the Indianapolis area....sometimes the events are even free to the families! They also help support individuals with Down syndrome who are self advocates and like to get out in the community and do things together. Since we don't live close to a lot of events that take place in Indianapolis, Down Syndrome Indiana helps to fund our local play/support group that was started in Terre Haute, called Wabash Valley S.T.A.R.S. It gives families in the Wabash Valley a closer place to meet and get to know one another and build relationships with other families walking the same road.
* Support for Research and Advocacy - Even though Down syndrome can not be prevented, it's something that occurs from the moment of conception, there is research being done on ways to possibly improve cognition in individuals with Down syndrome. Also, Alzheimer's disease is something that is very common in most individuals with Down syndrome as they age. Research is being done to find what it is about that extra chromosome that causes Alzheimer's and not only helping to find a cure for the Down syndrome community, but for the general population as well.
Down Syndrome Indiana and the National Down Syndrome Society, help to advocate on a larger scale for all individuals with Down syndrome and their families. By trying to pass laws that will benefit our children in their futures.
* Informational and Educational Conferences - One of the big conferences this year in Indianapolis, was the National Down Syndrome Congress Convention! This conference is held annually, all over the country, and this past summer we were so lucky to have it being held almost in our own backyard! Each year, thousands of people from across the globe attend the National Down Syndrome Congress Convention. For most, it's to hear the latest information from world-renowned experts. For others, it's a great vacation. But, for nearly all, there's the one of a kind NDSC family reunion feeling that permeates the convention weekend. Next summer, June 25-28, 2015, the 43rd Annual NDSC Convention will be held at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge in Phoenix, Arizona.
Helping support Down Syndrome Awareness is so important to us. Each year we have helped raise money, in Sophia's name, to give back to Down Syndrome Indiana. In fact, Sophia's Stars have helped raise over $10,000 in the past 5 years! Promoting acceptance, awareness and inclusion for not only for Sophia, but for the thousands of people rocking their extra chromosome each and every day!
If you would like to make a donation to Down Syndrome Indiana, please visit Sophia's fundraising page and do so today! It's fast and easy, and we would greatly appreciate it! Click HERE to donate.
Hope to see a lot of OLD and NEW faces walking with Sophia at the Buddy Walk this year!