Down Syndrome Buddy Walk is an opportunity for community to unite

Buddy Walk Wichita

The Down Syndrome Society of Wichita (DSSW) will be holding its 13th annual Buddy Walk Oct. 8, at Wichita State University Cessna Stadium, located on 21st Street and Hillside.

How it all started

In 1995, the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) developed the mile long Buddy Walk to celebrate the month of Down Syndrome Awareness (October). This walk was established to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome.

The Buddy Walk has grown from 17 walks in 1995 to the nearly 300 walks planned worldwide for 2016. In 2015 nearly $14 million was donated!

What are the donations used for?

The money raised from the Buddy Walk will benefit local programs and services, as well as national advocacy and public awareness initiatives of DSSW that benefit all individuals with Down syndrome. There are a few ways to donate. You can either join or donate to a specific 'Buddy' team, or towards the walk.

Relationship with NU

Natalie Rolfe graduated from Newman University in May 2015 with a degree in Organizational Leadership and is now the new Executive Director of the Down Syndrome Society of Wichita.

Also involved with the walk is the Newman Theatre Department. A few of the students will be dressed as characters interacting and encouraging the walkers along the way.

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Kara Schwinn and her son Ryan

Assistant Director of Financial Aid Kara Schwinn participates in the walk with her son, Ryan, and his amazing team, "Ryan's Lions". Together they have raised more than $1,000 and have 45 walkers!

"My first year to walk was in 2013 when Ryan was only 5 months old. Since then, we have walked each year."

How can you get involved?

Students and faculty can either get involved by participating in the walk or by volunteering during the walk by helping with set-up, passing out welcome bags, food prep or playing carnival games with the walkers. You can sign up to volunteer at volunteerbuddy@gmail.com .

"Every year when the walk starts, I get this overwhelming amount of emotion. It's amazing to see more than 2,500 walkers in one area for one reason, to promote acceptance and awareness for those with Down Syndrom," Schwinn said.

So what are you waiting for? Put on those walking shoes, grab a buddy and run with the cause!

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