Author: Rose Phillips, ds-connex team member
Walk Profile: 7th Annual Wisconsin Upside Down Buddy Walk® Presented by Foundations Bank
Walk Date: Saturday, October 3, 2015
Who: Wisconsin Upside Down
Location: North Shore Middle School; Hartland, WI
Walk Registration Website: http://www.ds-stride.org/wiusdbuddywalk
Organization Website: http://www.wiusd.org/
This October, North Shore Middle School in Hartland, Wisconsin will be packed to the gills with excited Buddy Walk® participants, ready to enjoy a day of celebration and fun. It’s a hugely popular event. “We sometimes have to turn volunteers away because everyone wants to volunteer,” the Buddy Walk® coordinator Robbin Lyons says. “Our walk is so energetic and fun. It’s a true community support rally.”
Part of what makes the Wisconsin Upside Down Buddy Walk® so special is its competitive culture of team fundraising. Huge teams with over 100 members compete to see who can raise the most money. Each year, the number of teams to reach the $2,000 mark grows, but it wasn’t always such a big part of the event. It started when Robbin asked her daughter Kelly, whose birthday falls around the time of the walk, what she wanted that year. “She said, ‘Mom, I want to have a team for the Buddy Walk® — I want my own team.”
Kelly’s Kupkakes was started that year. “We sent out invitations to her whole class and invited them to the Buddy Walk®. When people saw how big Kelly’s team was, it became so much more of a competition,” Robbin says. “Everyone loves when we give out the trophies. There is are definitely bragging rights to get that trophy.”
Participants look forward to seeing friends and new families at the walk, which has a family reunion feel. Robbin describes the walk as sheer joy. “It’s not just about Down syndrome – it’s about a whole web of support of people with special needs.” The funds they raise go toward valuable services that Wisconsin Upside Down provides: new parent packages, a free resource library, an advocacy program, an adaptive bike-riding camp, basketball clinic, family emergency funds and cancer support. Each year, as the walk expands, they expand their reach of support.
This year, participants can expect an adaptive bike zone, performances by Miss Amazing and The Dance Club from Arrowhead High School, bounce houses, face painting, games, a food truck, and a celebration of the passage of the ABLE Act.
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.