Walk Profile: DSGO Step Up for Down Syndrome
Walk Date: Saturday, September 14, 2019
Location: High Street Baptist Church – Springfield, MO
Walk Registration Website: DSGO Step Up for Down Syndrome Website
On Saturday, September 14, the Down Syndrome Group of the Ozarks will host their 2019 Step Up for Down Syndrome event. Hoping to raise $50,000, this event is DSGO’s largest awareness and fundraising event of the year. It is through the generous support from the community that the DSGO is able to extend their reach farther into the Ozarks area. We had the pleasure of learning more about the event from Jen Welton, President of the DSGO Board of Directors.
Jen has an older brother, Trent, who has Down syndrome. Trent is 52 years old and enjoys reminding Jen that he’s the boss of her. “For someone who was told they wouldn’t live past two years old, he’s doing pretty well,” she said. After attending several DSGO event, Jen knew she wanted to be more involved and the Board fit her experiences, so she joined and describes it as the ‘best decision” she’s ever made!
This year’s event is a bit different than past events, as they have changed both the date and location. Jen explained, “In the past, our Step Up event was in June surrounding one of the Springfield Cardinal home games. We weren’t able to pick a weekend that worked best for our families. A big factor in moving Step Up away from the summer is that by the end of the walk, our families were so hot that the kids just didn’t have it in them to sit through a baseball game. Moving it to the fall was a request we heard quite often, so we moved it to September. Parking among the congestion of downtown was also a common complaint we heard. We are so blessed to have High Street Baptist Church as one of our organization’s biggest fans, and they gave us their back property to host this year’s Step Up.”
This year’s event will have a carnival theme, with bounce houses, balloon characters, face painting, cotton candy, food, dancing, and ”everything you can imagine!” Jen went on to share that the “celebratory walk will be held around the church’s baseball field. There will be tons of banners, and hopefully a lot of excited teams!”
Jen hopes that participants in the event will walk away feeling love and “completely worn out.” She continued, “There’s nothing quite like seeing a person with Down syndrome getting some of the most amazing attention. For those who don’t have Down syndrome, I want them to see that their family members matter to our community. We are one whole!”
Jen wants new families to know that this event is a day of fun and encouragement for those supported by the DSGO. Her advice is to “relax and know you’re around other families who have walked in your shoes. We’re stepping up beside you!”
With the funds raised by the event, the DSGO will be able to increase their educational and medical outreach efforts, offer more free and reduced-cost trainings and conferences, and provide scholarships to national conferences.
Jen hopes that the community will “come learn about our organization…your mind and heart will be blown away!” The Step Up for Down Syndrome event is open to the public, and you can show your support by visiting their fundraising site at https://www.ds-stride.org/dsgotepup.
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.