Author: Emily Denholm, ds-connex team member
Buddy Walk® Date: Saturday, October 10, 2015
Who: Fun Coast Down Syndrome Association
Location: Flagler County Airport (Bunnell, FL)
Walk Registration website: http://www.ds-stride.org/funcoastbuddywalk
Fun Coast website: http://www.funcoastdownsyndrome.com/
“Our Buddy Walk is the highlight event of the year for the people involved with our organization,” says Executive Director Paula Wilburn. “We have families who come out just for the FCDSA Buddy Walk because it is a day to celebrate our stars.”
Founded in 2001, Fun Coast Down Syndrome Association (FCDSA) was started by Wilburn to provide support meetings for the local Down syndrome community. In an effort to expand services further with more resources and programming, the first FCDSA Buddy Walk® fundraiser was held in 2005.
Now in its 10th year, the FCDSA Buddy Walk has grown into a recognized community event. Carl Sanderson, who volunteered at the walk last year and has signed on to help coordinate this year’s event shares, “My wife and I love the Buddy Walk because it’s a great opportunity for our friends and neighbors to share in our passion for raising awareness; that’s why were so dedicated to being involved.”
Located at Central Park in Palm Coast, the walk is sure to be fun for all ages. “The walk route includes a scenic stroll around a city lake; it’s the nicest park in our area,” says Paula. In addition, there are activities like face painting, carnival games, bounce houses, snow cones, a DJ, dancing and even karaoke!
One of Paula’s favorite parts of the walk is the grand marshal, who helps kickoff the walk. “We have had a grand marshal for the past 5 years who is a self-advocate. It is always really great for the community to see young adults with Down syndrome, where they’ve come from and how they’ve gotten to where they are.”
A local high school group of 30-40 teens traditionally volunteer their time to celebrate the walk. “It really speaks to the atmosphere of inclusion we have at the walk,” shares Wilburn. “The volunteers love spending time with the kids and adults who have Down syndrome. It’s such a fun and exciting time!”
The FCDSA team is hoping for landmark Buddy Walk fundraising year, with a walk goal of $75,000. Funds raised will support providing educational materials to local schools, scholarships to Hope Haven and scholarships to Down syndrome conferences. In addition, funds raised will help FCDSA move closer toward its long-term goal of building an important enrichment center that will greatly enhance the programs it offers.
To be a part of the 2015 FCDSA Buddy Walk® on Saturday, October 10th, you can register at http://www.ds-stride.org/funcoastbuddywalk. To learn more about the Fun Coast Down Syndrome Association, please visit: http://www.funcoastdownsyndrome.com/.
This post is a continuation of our Down Syndrome Walk Profile series. We’ll be profiling and highlighting Down Syndrome Walks from around the country in an effort to share the stories and experiences that make Down syndrome communities so vibrant and unique. Check back for future posts in this series coming soon.