Author: Emily Denholm, ds-connex team member
Walk Profile: Omaha Buddy Walk®
Walk Date: Sunday, October 3, 2015
Who: Down Syndrome Alliance of the Midlands
Location: Stinson Park; Omaha, NE
Walk Registration Website: http://www.ds-stride.org/omahabuddywalk
Organization Website: http://www.dsamidlands.org/
Now in its 14th year, the Omaha Buddy Walk® has become a staple in the local community. What started in 2002 as a handful of families has now grown into a 60 team, 2,500 participant event. “It’s a beautiful, beautiful event,” shares Executive Director Anne Mancini. “It’s one day that brings out the greatest number of families and supporters to truly celebrate individuals with Down syndrome – the happiest day of the year for us.”
This year, the walk will again be held at Stinson Park, which provides ample space for families to spread out to set up tents and to also accommodate booths from community agencies who come to speak with families. Entertainment at the walk is sure bring fun for all ages! Participants will have the opportunity to enjoy face painters and clowns, a photo booth, a DJ and a stage where kids can get up to dance, bocce ball, a TOPPSoccer program, mascots from various sports teams and universities and a mini baseball clinic for kids put on by two local high school baseball teams.
Families will begin arriving for the walk at 8:30 a.m., where check-in and a carnival will take place until the opening ceremonies at 11:30 a.m. The walk will officially kick-off at noon with lunch following after at 1:00 p.m. Event coordinator, L’ara Arcishewsky gave us the inside scoop on some new additions to this year’s walk, including lunch. The lunch can be purchased in advance for $2 per person when individuals and teams register. At check-in, walkers will also receive a lanyard and specially branded Buddy Walk® button to pin to the lanyard. Additional buttons, such as ones highlighting milestone years of participation, will be available for purchase. “We are hopeful that teams will collect buttons and make their own to trade at future walks,” says L’ara. “Each year, we will roll out new buttons that teams can add to their Buddy Walk flair!”
In describing the overall culture of the event, L’ara and Anne most enjoy the “family reunion” type feel. The walk makes you feel like, “We are just a regular community,” shares L’ara. “We’re just like every other family, out celebrating our loved ones with Down syndrome. It’s also a great opportunity for siblings and extended family members to see that there are others celebrating their loved one too.”
L’ara and Anne hope to raise $110,000 to support local programs offered by the Down Syndrome Alliance of the Midlands including: family outreach, support groups for mothers and grandparents, connection events for families, NDSS on the Hill and conference stipends for families. In addition, funds raised support a monthly education series, which brings in speakers from across the country to present important information to self-advocates and families.
To be a part of the 2015 Omaha Buddy Walk® you can register at http://www.ds-stride.org/omahabuddywalk. To learn more about the Down Syndrome Alliance of the Midlands, please visit: http://www.dsamidlands.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.