A common observation we hear surrounding the Buddy Walk is that it is an event like no other. And through experience participating in six walks, we have to agree. However, we were struggling to find the answer to why. What gives each Buddy Walk such a special quality? Several discussions with Buddy Walk event organizers later and we have landed on the answer: Culture.
While most national organizations require event organizers to follow a set of rigid guidelines when carrying out their event locally, the National Down Syndrome Society has given local Buddy Walk event organizers the freedom to choose how they carry out their event. This freedom allows for creativity and gives each walk a local touch. And when working to spread awareness and acceptance of children with Down syndrome, this design could not be more on point.
Please allow me the opportunity to share a few observations my our Buddy Wak visits in 2013.
DSACO Buddy Walk
Tailgating at the Columbus Buddy WalkAt the Columbus Buddy Walk, over 4,000 people tailgate before, during, and after the Buddy Walk. With Columbus being home to the Ohio State Buckeyes, these locals love their tailgating. And most say that the Buddy Walk would not be the same without it! It creates a natural competition between families who create the most decorated tent, the biggest spread of food and of course those custom matching t-shits representing that special child in their lives.
DSSKY Buddy Walk
The Buddy House in Bowling Green, KY opened its doors in 2012While most of the Buddy Walk events have dancing, nobody does it better than the Rockerz of Bowling Green Kentucky. They had the crowd on their feet rock’in it out at the Hot Rods baseball stadium. This year's event ended with an amazing tour of the Buddy House in downtown Bowling Green. This was a first for me and we've been talking about it ever since. Not only does the Buddy House provide day care services and gatherings for the older teens but it has kitchen and laundry services to teach life skills to their members. What a wonderful way to remind the community of their generous support all year around.