Author: Emily Denholm, ds-connex team member
Sarah is the star of the DSFA Greenville Buddy Walk® team, Team Sarah Rocks. We spoke with Sarah’s mom, Vicki, who also serves as captain for their walk team. “Sarah was born 9 years ago,” recalls Vicki. “The hospital paired us with another mom who had a child with Down syndrome. Her child was 6 or 7 years old at the time. It was nice because she was farther along in her journey and able to share her experience with us.”
The Kilbrides attended the Greenville Buddy Walk® the following year after moving to the Greenville area. “I have a lot of good friends who are a part of the Down Syndrome Family Alliance of Greenville and we get together during events and outside events. We branched out from there in getting more involved in the disability community.”
Since that first walk, the Kilbrides have tried to make attending the walk an annual family outing. To date, Team Sarah Rocks has participated in six Greenville Buddy Walk® events. Vicki uses Facebook and email to invite friends, family, and loved ones near and far to join their team. One year, they had 60 people come out to the walk to support their team. Vicki set up a tailgate tent where their team relaxed and enjoyed each other’s company.
In addition to team member recruitment, Vicki and her husband also work hard to fundraise for the walk. “My husband owns his own company and networks with a lot of people in the area for work. We go to the people we know to help spread the word, asking friends, family, co-workers, and clients to consider supporting or sponsoring the walk. We have friends and family out of state that donate to the walk too.”
For Vicki, her favorite part of the walk each year is “seeing the acceptance of everyone.” She especially enjoys seeing people who don’t have a personal connection with Down syndrome attend the walk and interact with the buddies. “It’s just a great time to experience things that you wouldn’t normally get to experience.” Sarah looks forward to the walk every year, too. Her favorite part? “She enjoys the parade of the kids where everyone is waving and cheering them on. She feels like the queen in her wagon with her sign and tiara.”
Sarah is now “9 going on 20,” according to Vicki. “She thinks she is old enough to drive. She is very social and outgoing. She loves sports. She does have other health issues and we’re working through all of them. She is in a regular classroom in school. Sarah has had therapy since she was two months old and the early intervention has really helped her blossom. She loves participating on her Special Olympics basketball and swimming teams too.” Sarah also has an older brother she adores. “He is more like a mother – he is very protective. She thinks he can do everything and anything. He spends a good bit of time in the summer with her.”
Team Sarah Rocks is excited for the 2016 Greenville Buddy Walk®, taking place on Saturday, October 22, 2016 at Conestee Park. “It’s a great way to let your child enjoy having a good time,” said Vicki of the walk. “It’s a big party. You get to meet and see people that you don’t normally see. There are opportunities to network and to talk to other families.”
This post is a part of our ongoing Walk Team Spotlight blog series, which profiles Down syndrome walk teams sharing their unique backstories, as well as fundraising, recruitment and networking tips! Check back for future posts in this series coming soon. Submit your story ideas to: firstname.lastname@example.org.