FRIENDS Buddy Walk set for Oct. 16

After being held virtually last year, the Buddy Walk will return to an in-person format this Saturday morning on the ETSU campus. PHOTO BY DAVE ONGIE

The annual Buddy Walk hosted by FRIENDS (Friends Reaching, Inspiring & Education Neighbors about Down Syndrome) will once again be held on the campus of ETSU this Saturday. The event is back to an in-person format this year after being held virtually in 2020.

The event will start in the front yard of the Center for Physical Activity, and the half-mile walk will take place on the intramural field next to the CPA. The walk is scheduled to start at 11 a.m.

The grand marshal of this year’s event is Houston Vandergriff. Vandergriff is a travel photographer based in Knoxville who has traveled far and wide hoping his photographs will inspire other to live life to the fullest and live life with compassion.

The first Buddy Walk in our region was held in 2000. It was held on the VA Mountain Home Campus with a little over 100 people in attendance. The last time an in-person buddy walk was held in 2019, that number had grown exponentially.

Tammy Rowe, who helped organize the first Buddy Walk in our region after attending one in Knoxville back in 1999, said the event is a great way to connect with other parents who have children with Down syndrome.

“I started meeting so many people when we started organizing (the first Buddy Walk) that thought they were the only people around this area that had a child with Down syndrome,” Rowe said. “It’s crazy how many people thought they were the only ones.”

Those wishing to participate in this event or to find a way to get involved with the organization can find out more by visiting


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