Tuesday, October 11, 2011

31 for 21: Buddy Walks

Every year, Down syndrome associations across the country hold buddy walks. They're a walk to raise awareness about Down syndrome and also fundraise for the local DSA. This money helps the local DSA provide new parent packets to give to hospitals, birth centers, etc, and also helps them do various events throughout the year.

The Down Syndrome Association of Tulsa has a buddy walk every 3rd Sunday of October. So, it's coming up this Sunday, the 16th. The DSAT walk is free for anybody to come to. If you register, you get the added benefit of receiving a t-shirt & goodie bag, but it's not required. This year the walk is in a new location in Tulsa, as DSAT's buddy walk has grown so much in the past few years, that they outgrew the highschool track it was at for the last few years. It's always a really fun event with free food, all sorts of things for everybody to do, music, etc.

DSAT has a new very informative website this year for their walk.

Here's some info from buddywalk.org, the National Down Syndrome Society's buddy walk website, that shares a little more about what the buddy walk is:

    The Buddy Walk® was established in 1995 by the National Down Syndrome Society to celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness Month in October and to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome. Today, the Buddy Walk program is supported nationally by NDSS and organized at the local level by parent support groups, schools and other organizations and individuals.

    Over the past sixteen years, the Buddy Walk program has grown from 17 walks to nearly 300 expected in 2011 across the country and around the world. Last year alone, 285,000 people participated in a Buddy Walk! They raised more than $11.2 million to benefit local programs and services as well as the national advocacy initiatives that benefit all individuals with Down syndrome.

    The Buddy Walk is a one-mile walk in which anyone can participate without special training. It is an inspirational and educational event that celebrates the many abilities and accomplishments of people with Down syndrome. Whether you have Down syndrome, know someone who does, or just want to show your support, come and join a Buddy Walk in your local community!

 Here's a little history about the DSAT buddy walk:

    The Down Syndrome Association of Tulsa (DSAT) is a non-profit, parent run organization that exists to enhance the lives of individuals with Down syndrome, their families and caregivers. This is accomplished by providing support, encouragement, education, current information, and opportunities for socialization and by promoting community recognition of the inherent dignity of all people with developmental disabilities.

    It was started in 1979, as a parent and volunteer organization and is the oldest formally organized Down syndrome group in the state of Oklahoma. It began as an informal gathering of a few families with children who had Down syndrome and has grown to serve more than 250 members. It is a support, a resource and an informational group.

    DSAT’s vision is for individuals with Down syndrome to be accepted as contributing members of the community, be educated in all aspects of life, and to enjoy a safe and as independent life as can be accommodated.

    The organization provides parents with up to date information on all aspects of Down syndrome through monthly meetings, literature, and by hosting disability conferences and seminars. Often, literature and information is dated and not accurate. DSAT strives to keep parents informed of the latest medical developments and provide resources and encouragement for both parents and children. This same information is also distributed to local hospitals, libraries and community organizations.

    A monthly newsletter is distributed to more than 300 families and monthly meetings allow parents and other family members to interact and learn more about issues and programs that affect their children.  Special events such as annual fishing day, holiday parties, and organized outings to local sporting events are held throughout the year so that individuals with Down syndrome can come together and celebrate.

    Meetings are held the third Thursday or the month at 7:00 pm at Kirk of the Hills in Tulsa, Ok.  Free Childcare is provided.  Please check our website at www.dsat.org for topics.

    The Buddy Walk, which was started by Erin Paul, is DSAT’s largest fundraising event and was established nationally to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome, raise funds for education, research and advocacy programs, and enhance the position of the Down syndrome community.

    Started DSAT Buddy Walk with approximately 500 people in attendance

    Began online registration and fundraising.  Walk grew to more than 2,000 people and raised almost $30,000.

    Moved walk location from Whiteside Park in Tulsa to the Track at Union Public Schools in Tulsa.  Attendance grew to approximately 3,500
    Inaugural Buddy of the Year Award given to Tanner Mahan, buddy to Clark Durland 
    Walk attendance reached an all time high of approximately 4,300 people and more than 30 people created teams to walk and support their "Buddy."
    Self Advocates participated as Buddy Walk Ambassadors and lead the Buddy Walk.

And a couple pictures from last year's DSAT walk:

Today is the buddy walk kick-off event in Tulsa at Bounce-U!

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