In Cincinnati, 50% of our Down syndrome associations needed resources are raised during this event. Hailey and her friends benefit so much from this fundraiser. She has attended group physical therapy sessions and sign language classes. She attends a Christmas party and an Easter get together. We had someone from the Down syndrome association visit us at our house shortly after she was born. Now that she is older there are other programs we can participate in, but with two older brothers in sports, we are having a difficult time getting to some of them. Our local association also funds the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network. Their mission is to ensure that every child born with Down syndrome has the opportunity to grow up in a loving family. They do not charge a fee for their services. Last year was a banner year not only in terms of money raised but also participants. Over 11,500 people walked!!!
The Buddy Walk to us is so much more than a fundraiser. Yes, that's the main purpose for the event, but to us it's just a part of it. The Buddy Walk to us is over 11,000 people together celebrating one thing...individuals with Down syndrome. Every one there knows someone or is related to someone or has been touched by someone with Down syndrome. Down syndrome is the norm there....Hailey isn't "atypical" there. She's one of the stars.
We missed the first year Hailey was with us. We had just come off of an unexpected diagnosis and open heart surgery. We decided to lay low for the first year. The first year we participated was 2012. Hailey was 18 months old. She was still such a little peanut. I would be lying if I said the event doesn't bring tears to my eyes every year because it does. It's overwhelming. To see that many people there to support Down syndrome makes me speechless (and not much does!). The boys look forward to the Buddy Walk every year. This year both boys have decided to miss their soccer games to attend. The boys might like it because of all the free food, but they would never admit to it :-) It's important to all of us.
Last year our team was smaller. Big brother decided to play his soccer game.
If you ever get a chance to attend a Buddy Walk, please do! I think everyone should attend one in their lifetime. I think if you go once though, you will want to go again! The more the merrier!!! It's guaranteed to bring a smile to your face!!