Buddy Walk benefits Down SyndromeWritten by Amy Biolchini | | ABiolchini@toledofreepress.com
The Annual Buddy Walk organized by the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Toledo (DSAGT) will be held 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 3 at UT’s Rocket Hall. Almost 300 walks are planned worldwide by the National Down Syndrome Society. The mile-long walk starts at noon and proceeds around UT’s campus. Registration is $15 for adults and $8 for children.
Patricia Soto, chair of the Buddy Walk, said, “Come and meet the kids, they’re of all different ages: Toddlers, tiny babies to grown ups. There’s lots of love and hugs and kisses.”
DSAGT keeps the money raised from the even in the community, mainly for resource packets given to families of newborns with Down Syndrome. Participants in the Buddy Walk can join a team of a particular child with Down Syndrome by sponsoring them. Those not officially affiliated with a team are invited to meet the children and families and walk with them.
“Our kids bring joy to so many people,” Soto said. “We want to bring awareness to the community to accept them for who they are.”
Soto is the mother of 7-year-old Luie. Luie, who has Down Syndrome, has over 100 people that have donated money to his team and will be walking alongside him Oct. 3. Included will be the Navarre High School football team, who were able to meet Luie through Soto’s nephew, Agapipo Ruiz. The players welcomed Luie with open arms, Soto said, since many of the boys had never been exposed to Down Syndrome before.
“The team made him an honorary player and gave him a jersey with his name on it,” Soto said. “I never say never, but the chances of him [Luis] playing in a pro football team are slim.”
Chris Burke, an actor with Down Syndrome who has played parts on ABC’s “Life Goes On” and CBS’s “Touched By An Angel,” will share his story prior to the walk. Burke will perform with twin brothers Joe and John DeMasi at 1:45 p.m. with their inspirational musical show. Over a thousand walkers are expected to participate this year, Soto said.
To register or donate to a participant, please visit www.dsagt.org. The Buddy Walk page is listed under “Events.”