Published on October 14th, 2014 | by TLV News0
Oxford’s First Buddy Walk Set for October 19
October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month
The first annual Buddy Walk, benefiting Oxford’s own 21 United and National Down Syndrome Society will be held on Sunday, October 19th from 1:30 – 5 pm, at Bailey Branch Park across from FNC on Office Park Drive. Mayor Pat Patterson will be on hand to kick off the event. The Buddy Walk itself is a short, one-mile walk which will take place at 3:30, and is preceded and followed by a few hours of live entertainment and festivities. The Buddy Walk will be immediately followed by a ceremony where each individual with Down syndrome will be given a medal.
The rain-or-shine afternoon promises lots of family fun. There will be games for kids and bouncey houses, as well as face painting and a fun photo booth. Food will be available at the event, including pizza from Little Caesar’s and snow-cones from SnoBiz. A fire truck will be there for kids to see up close, and the OPD K-9 unit will be on hand as well as the Rebel Black Bear. A gas grill from Home Depot will be raffled off during the afternoon, too.
The Buddy Walk was established by the National Down Syndrome Society (www.ndss.org) in 1995 to promote awareness and inclusion for all individuals with Down syndrome. The event has grown from 17 walks in 1995 to over 250 in 50 states and around the world in 2013. Buddy Walk occurs in the month of October because it’s Down Syndrome Awareness Month. During the month of October, we celebrate individuals with Down Syndrome and make people aware of their abilities and accomplishments. According to 21 United, “Down Syndrome occurs when a person has an extra chromosome #21; instead of the typical 46 chromosomes in each cell, a person with Down syndrome has 47. It occurs in one out of every 80 to 1000 live births. It is the most frequently occurring chromosomal disorder, affecting people of all ages, races, and economic levels. Recent advances in our understanding of Down Syndrome have resulted in dramatic improvements in the life span and potential of those who are affected.”
21 United of Oxford, Mississippi (www.21united.org) is a new Down Syndrome organization started by local parents of children with Down syndrome. Bradley and Jenny Rayner, whose second child has Down Syndrome, began the group because they felt a need to bring the local Down Syndrome community together. 21 United member Rachel Phillips (whose child John Robert has Down Syndrome) says, “Our goal as a group is to strive to build support that will allow us to provide education, advocacy, scholarships, and camp opportunities and services to our members.” With the community’s help, 21 United can help members reach their maximum potential.
In addition to the Buddy Walk being a fun day in the park, 21 United hopes to raise money to support individuals in our community with Down Syndrome. Funds raised will help pay for materials and resources for new and expectant parents of children with Down Syndrome, scholarships for individuals with Down Syndrome, and annual social gatherings. The cost to participate is $10 per adult, $5 per child (ages 13 and under), and is free for Buddy Walk friends with special needs. You may register for the Buddy Walk the day of the event if you wish, or you can do so at www.21united.org. If you have any questions or would like to register by phone, call Rachel Phillips at 662-801-1804.
You can help by joining the Buddy Walk on October 19th and/or making a contribution to 21 United. Any pledge can be mailed to:
1090 Augusta Drive
Oxford, MS 38655
This article was originally published in The Local Voice #214 (published October 9, 2014).
To download the PDF of this issue, click here.