April 10, 2018, is National Siblings Day. Because it falls on a #TeamTuesday, we thought this was a perfect opportunity to feature a young team captain who made her debut last year at the Columbus Buddy Walk, raising over $3000 for the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio. Addie Kearns is 11 years old, and she is currently in sixth grade. Addie’s older brother, Alex, has Down syndrome, and Addie has previously acted as co-captain for her brother’s team. Determined to do more for her community, she founded Buddies Inc in 2017 to raise money in honor of all individuals with Down syndrome. Her heart for advocacy and fundraising has impressed many, even earning her recognition as a Rising Star in her community. In addition to her fundraising and advocacy, Addie is a member of her dance studio’s company program, a diversity steward for her school, and a 4.0 student. She also enjoys drawing and crafting, playing outside, and spending time with her family. When she grows up, Addie dreams of being a physical therapist dance instructor (a role she intends to create herself if it doesn’t already exist), or a professional advocate.
Addie and Alex share a close bond. “Even though we fight sometimes – like most siblings do – he is the first to console me when I’m sad or if I have gotten hurt,” Addie explained. “He makes me laugh even when I don’t want to. Someone might look at Alex and think he’s different, even though everybody is. I look at Alex and he’s my brother, my human being brother, who is just like everyone else.”
For her second year as team captain for the Columbus Buddy Walk, Addie has set her fundraising goal at $5000. Just three weeks into walk season, she has already raised 20% of her goal! She is just getting started, though. So far this year, she has coordinated a spirit day at her school (raising over $700 in one day!), and she and her mom (who is also a team captain for the Columbus Buddy Walk; their family has two teams in one house!) had a fundraising challenge on World Down Syndrome Day. She also plans to host an event, Shop Along with Buddies Inc, where she will invite direct sales consultants to set up displays (in exchange for a donation to her team) for invited guests to shop. In addition, Addie is working on a presentation to share with potential team sponsors in her community.
Although Addie’s fundraising journey began when she was in second grade, it was her fifth grade teachers last year who supported and encouraged her to establish her own Buddy Walk® team. In addition to her teachers, Addie finds inspiration in her mom, DSACO President and CEO Kari Jones, and Ellen DeGeneres. “They do so much for me and my community. They inspire me every day and they fight for what’s right in my community and for people everywhere.”
We think Addie is pretty amazing, and we can’t wait to see what she accomplishes – not only in her fundraising this year, but life in general! To learn more about Buddies Inc, you can visit Addie’s fundraising page here.
This post is a part of our ongoing Walk Team Spotlight blog series, which profiles Down syndrome walk teams sharing their unique backstories, as well as fundraising, recruitment and networking tips! Check back for future posts in this series coming soon. Submit your story ideas to: firstname.lastname@example.org.