Buddy Walk raises money for Down Syndrome research

On Oct. 24 the Champaign County Down Syndrome Network held the Buddy Walk at the Champaign County Fair Grounds to raise money for Down syndrome research.

Over 700 people participated, forming 27 teams.

Nicole Nelsen, a participant in the walk, said that she is personally affected by Down Syndrome . Her daughter, Riley Ann, has the disease. Nelsen was encouraged by the turnout.

“I’m glad to see so many people out because many people don’t understand what Down syndrome is,” Nelsen said. “I didn’t know until my daughter was diagnosed.”

“This walk is so important, even from the volunteer side because it brings the community together. We have students from the University, high school students, and community members that volunteer. It is way to show that the community supports people with Down syndrome. The walk raises money, but it also raises awareness for Down syndrome,” said Caity Collins, the volunteer coordinator for the walk.

The walk was a family event, with many activities for children. Kids could see a fire truck, a tractor, and a monster truck. They could also play miniature golf, in the inflatables, or carnival area.

The participants were not limited to family members of people with Down syndrome. Tarah Brown participated on Team Tiger Lily for her best friend’s daughter, Lily.

“Lily was born in February, and the Down Syndrome Network has been great in helping Lily with her physical therapy. We are here to contribute to the cause and to support the Network as they have supported Lily,” Brown said.

According to the National Down Syndrome Society website, one in every 733 babies is born with Down syndrome, and there are more than 400,000 people with Down Syndrome in the U.S.