Walk Profile: DSAF Step Up for Down Syndrome Walk
Walk Date: October 5, 2019
Location: Antelope Park; Lincoln, Nebraska
Walk Registration Website: DSAF Step Up for Down Syndrome Website
On October 5th, the Down Syndrome Association for Families of Nebraska will celebrate its 18th annual Step Up for Down Syndrome Walk. As Lincoln, Nebraska’s premier Down syndrome awareness and education event, the walk celebrates individuals with Down syndrome, showcasing the critical role they can and do play in the community. Each year, the event brings out over 1,600 attendees to show their support of friends and loved ones with Down syndrome.
In 2002, the DSAF of Nebraska hosted its first Buddy Walk® to bring about awareness and serve as the organization’s one annual fundraiser. Mary Sweeney, Marketing and Development Director for DSAF, explained that they joined with other Down syndrome affiliate groups across the country to re-brand their annual walk in 2010. Mary says, “The Step Up for Down Syndrome Walk is our effort to include Down syndrome in the event name, along with creating a positive call-to-action for the entire community and state. It is the same event in every other way and draws participants from across Nebraska and the United States!”
Since beginning in 2002, the event has grown from a small contingent of committed friends and family to a spectacular event bringing together 1,600 supporters ranging from parents, siblings, teachers, and medical professionals to community organizations and companies. These dedicated supporters allow DSAF to deliver on its mission to provide support and a positive vision for the future of individuals with Down syndrome and the families, friends, educators, and professionals who share in their lives.
Mary shared her favorite memory with her son Henry from a past walk, and it perfectly encapsulates the goal of all Down syndrome awareness walks. Sweeney shared, “My favorite memory was our very first walk. Henry was only a little over one at the time, and this whole world of Down syndrome was still new to us. We didn’t know what to expect. We were blown away by the fun atmosphere and amount of people out to support people just like our little guy. Tears were just streaming down my face as we walked through the balloon arch to start the walk, and cheerleaders were chanting his name. I remember thinking, ‘He’s going to be just fine. If this small corner of the world is this supportive of him, he will be just fine.’”
When asked if there would be anything new in store for this year’s event participants, Mary explained that, “We will have more fun surprises along the walk. Without giving too much away, we’ll just say it will be ‘entertaining’ as people walk the mile-long route.” We cannot wait to see the exciting things in store for everyone at the 18th annual DSAF of Nebraska Step Up for Down Syndrome Walk.
To support the DSAF Step Up for Down Syndrome Walk, please visit their Stride fundraising site at https://www.ds-stride.org/dsafstepup.
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.