By Cassidy Blackwell
The 23rd annual FRIENDS Buddy Walk will take place Sept. 30 to provide a day of super-hero themed fun and to fundraise, benefitting those in our community with Down syndrome.
The Buddy Walk will be held at the ETSU CPA Front Yard on 1244 Jack Vest Drive, Johnson City, TN, 37614. Events will begin at 10 a.m., with the half mile walk taking place at 11 a.m. The day will conclude at 1 p.m. after lunch and a legendary dance party! There will also be several local businesses and vendors.
“Everyone is welcome!” said FRIENDS president, Misty Adams, “We promise you will leave with a smile on your face if you get to come spend the day with us.”
Individuals, teams, and vendors can register online here. Adult registration is $21 and youth is $12, both including a T-shirt. Children or adults with Down syndrome can attend at no cost and will also a receive a t-shirt. Children 2 and under may also enter free. To secure T-shirts, registration will need to be completed by Sept. 10. Early pickup of T-shirts will take place Sept. 29 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Buddy Walk field.
The funds raised from the Buddy Walk will be used toward FRIENDS programming and activities. FRIENDS enhances the quality of life for people with Down syndrome through community support. They host various events like holiday parties, social groups by age range, and Mom’s and Dad’s Nights Out, as well as financial assistance to families in need.
The Buddy Walk was established in 1995 by the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) to raise awareness and advocate for inclusion of those with Down syndrome. NDSS encourages community organizers to host their own Buddy Walks across the nation. FRIENDS began hosting their Buddy Walk in 2000 and it is now their largest fundraiser of the year.
“Getting to celebrate and highlight individuals with Down syndrome is such an honor because so many years ago that was not something that you celebrated,” said Adams.
The Buddy Walk has currently raised $22,100 toward their goal of $40,000. There are three sponsorship tiers. Fundraising is also accomplished peer-to-peer through the Buddy Walk teams.
The theme of this year’s Buddy Walk is super-heroes. The Grand Marshalls will be some of FRIENDS’ superstars who began this event 23 years ago. FRIENDS will highlight all that these individuals have accomplished and continue to carry on for the community.
If you would be interested in becoming a sponsor, contact Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org, preferably by Sept. 5. Volunteers to set up, assist with the event, and clean afterwards are always needed, and should also contact Adams. More information about the Buddy Walk can be found at dsfriends.net or on their Facebook page.