Author: Emily Denholm, ds-connex team member
Walk Profile: Reach For The Stars Buddy Walk®
Walk Date: Sunday, October 11, 2015
Who: Reach For The Stars Berks County
Location: Daniel Boone High School, Birdsboro, PA
Walk Registration Website: www.ds-stride.org/berksbuddywalk
Organization Website: www.berksreachforthestars.org
“We love the Reach For The Stars Buddy Walk®,” says Colleen Rodriguez, RFTS Buddy Walk® team captain and committee member, who is also a busy mom to three children: Megan, Amber and Anthony. Amber and Anthony both have Down syndrome. Colleen describes Amber as very active and a lover of school, soccer and karate. Her brother Anthony, who will begin kindergarten in the fall, is a fan of sports and enjoys having books read to him. “Amber is very expressive; it’s easy to tell exactly how she is feeling,” says Colleen. “Whereas, Anthony is very laid back and goes with the flow. They are complete opposites!”
Each year, Colleen and her family look forward to the Reach For The Stars Buddy Walk®, which will be held this year on Sunday, October 11, 2015 at Daniel Boone High School. Colleen describes the event as an opportunity to get together with the other families that they don’t see often. With families having varying schedules, the Buddy Walk® is a time for everyone to come together to share stories, reconnect and celebrate the lives of those in the community with Down syndrome. Last year, Amber and Anthony’s teachers and therapists got involved in the walk. “Just seeing them show their support means a lot to our family,” says Colleen.
This year at the RFTS Buddy Walk®, the National Anthem will be sung by 11-year-old aspiring singer/songwriter and Berks County native, Ahnya O’riordan. Participants will enjoy tasty treats from food trucks, a special appearance from Star Wars characters, and have the opportunity to meet vendors around the track before the walk kickoff. Teams will gather in the bleachers for the opening ceremony before everyone walks together out of the stadium and around the school. Walkers will return to the stadium to listen to live music from Green Tea Revival and participate in activities like face painting, pumpkin painting and a book reading. Colleen recalls, “My favorite memory from last year’s Buddy Walk® was when the band started playing music and all three of my kids started dancing in the middle of everything. They didn’t care who was watching, they just had a great time.”
Leading up to the Reach For The Stars Buddy Walk®, Colleen and her family fundraise by organizing Dine to Donate nights with local restaurants and hosting a lemonade stand during the summer. Collen also serves on the walk committee where she enjoys bouncing ideas off of the other members, discussing how funds should be used from the walk, and areas where families need support. “We’re most excited to get more community members involved in the committee,” she says.
The Reach For The Stars Buddy Walk® has had a tremendous impact on Colleen’s family and others like hers in the community. The walk has brought more attention to Down syndrome awareness in the local school districts and has helped fund local family support groups and IEP clinics to help families know what to expect. Support raised from this year’s walk will help Reach For The Stars continue to fund these valuable projects.
To show your support for the walk, please visit the Reach For The Stars Stride Buddy Walk® fundraising site at www.ds-stride.org/berksbuddywalk. To learn more about Reach For The Stars, please visit http://berksreachforthestars.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.