Author: Emily Denholm, ds-connex team member
Walk Profile: Chattanooga Buddy Walk®
Walk Date: Saturday, October 17, 2015
Who: Chattanooga Down Syndrome Society (CDSS)
Location: AT&T Field; Chattanooga, TN
Walk Registration Website: http://www.ds-stride.org/chattanoogabuddywalk
Organization Website: http://www.chattanoogadownsyndrome.org
“The impact the Chattanooga Buddy Walk® has is so important,” says team captain Jennifer Moser. “It shows self-advocates and children with Down syndrome they are a part of the community and allows the community to see in turn, they are regular people. That’s one of the most important parts about the walk – the awareness it brings.”
This is Jennifer’s second year as a team captain. Jennifer’s daughter, Macie, has Down syndrome. At age two, Macie loves to have books read to her, play with her big sister and pet the family cat, Leo. “She is very loving and she is very emotional,” shares Jennifer. “Macie does not hide her emotions at all. If she’s happy, sad, angry, loving, you know it. She loves being around other people, especially kids.”
Jennifer and her family are looking forward to the 2015 Chattanooga Buddy Walk®, which is sure to be fun for all ages! Held at AT&T Field on Saturday, October 17th, the walk will include multiple bounce houses, mascots, and carnival games. A kid-friendly DJ will keep everyone dancing and there will be batting cages, a dress-up photo booth, a silent auction, plus pizza, popcorn, and cotton candy for all. In addition, members of the Trousdale School will also be providing live entertainment. “My favorite part is the actual walk itself,” recalls Jennifer of last year’s walk. “We were going through town…and people were so supportive in cheering our kids and families on. It’s the first time my husband and I saw our community really physically cheering us on.”
Last year, Jennifer planned for a whole year to be involved with the Buddy Walk. “We knew right away [after Macie was born] that we wanted to be involved – it’s such a big deal for our community.” Their team, Macie’s Marvels, had 23 members and over the course of walk season, they raised almost $3,000. “We spread the word mostly through Facebook. My husband’s employer also got very involved with our team. In everyone’s paycheck, there was a slip of paper that shared the story behind our team, had the website link and the day of the walk. A lot of people from my husband’s work donated and were on the team.”
On the day of the walk, the feeling of true community, togetherness and inclusion is what Jennifer describes as the most touching part of the event. “When our team all got together it was really emotional for me. I never thought we’d have as much support as we did. To see everyone come together to not just support Macie, but the entire Down syndrome community in Chattanooga, it was really overwhelming. It really affected me and my husband in such a positive way.”
CDSS hopes to raise $50,000 through this year’s Buddy Walk®. Funds raised will help provide physical activity scholarships to families, a medical hardship helper for families having a hard time paying expensive medical bills, “Welcome to the World” gift baskets for new families, and many educational mini-conferences and social functions throughout the year.
To show your support for the walk, please visit the Chattanooga Buddy Walk® fundraising site at http://www.ds-stride.org/chattanoogabuddywalk. To learn more about CDSS, please visit http://www.chattanoogadownsyndrome.org/.
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.