Author: Emily Denholm, ds-connex team member
Walk Profile: Buddy Walk® of the High Country
Walk Date: Saturday, September 19, 2015
Who: Buddy Walk of the High Country
Location: Ashe County High School, Jefferson, NC
Walk Registration Website: www.ds-stride.org/highcountrybuddywalk
Organization Website: www.buddywalkofthehighcountry.com
This year’s Buddy Walk® of the High Country will be held on September 19th at Ashe County High School. The event, which includes bounce houses, train rides around the track, bubbles, karaoke and music, corn-hole games and much more is sure to be a fun experience for the whole family! The Ashe County community rallies each year in support of the event, including students from the high school.
“It’s a must,” says team captain Crystal Barker on participating in the Buddy Walk® of the High Country. “There are so many other parents there. It’s so neat to swap stories. A lot of times at the walk you realize how similar the individuals with Down syndrome are and also how different they are in what they like to do. It’s a comfort to know you’re not alone.”
In addition to fundraising, Crystal also emphasizes the importance of the community aspect of the walk. “I enjoy getting back together and seeing everyone we don’t see in the year; especially the little ones, it’s amazing to see how much they grow in a year!” says Crystal. The event has personal value for Crystal and her family. Her daughter, Taylor, is a teenager with Down syndrome. “Taylor doesn’t know a stranger. She can pick up on people’s emotions and automatically knows if you need comfort. She loves unconditionally.”
Last year, Crystal formed Team Taylor for the Buddy Walk® of the High Country, and her team raised a total of $502. They reached out to their church network and anyone they knew through word of mouth, in addition to sharing information on their team on Facebook. “My mom is Taylor’s biggest advocate next to me and Taylor thinks the world of her,” says Crystal. “She emailed a lot of people in her network too to help raise funds.”
The support raised from the walk allows event organizers, Patricia and Lynn, to serve the Ashe County area Down syndrome community by hosting social gatherings, providing support to individuals, and raising awareness. Crystal and her family in particular have been impacted. Last year, Taylor was nominated for homecoming court at school. Crystal was concerned about how they would cover the cost of new clothes for Taylor when they received a phone call from Patricia, who offered to pay for a new outfit so she could enjoy a memorable evening with her peers in style. “I didn’t even have to call and ask,” says Crystal. “They just called and said we heard and we want to help. It was amazing.”
The Buddy Walk® is a true celebration and coming together of the Down syndrome community. “You don’t realize how much support this county can offer you until you come to the walk,” shares Crystal. “The amount of support this community has for children with Down syndrome is incredible.” This year, Lynn and Patricia hope to raise $25,000 from the Buddy Walk® to continue to raise awareness, advocate and offer support to local individuals with Down syndrome and their families.
To show your support for Crystal’s team (Team Taylor) or to form a team or make a donation, please visit the Buddy Walk® of the High Country fundraising site at www.ds-stride.org/highcountrybuddywalk. To learn more about Buddy Walk® of the High Country, please visit www.buddywalkofthehighcountry.com.
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.