Walk Team Spotlight – Little Vann Man of the GRADSA Buddy Walk®

Author: Jen Franklin Kearns, ds-connex team member

On Saturday, September 30th, GRADSA will celebrate their 20th annual Buddy Walk®. This year’s walk introduced us to a new team on the leaderboard, Little Vann Man. Currently a top fundraising team, we were invited to learn more about Vann and his family.

Little Man balloons

Darrian and Zachary Taylor received a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis earlier this year. Upon first learning of the diagnosis, the Taylors received information and packets full of resources from their doctors. Because GRADSA is the closest Down syndrome association to them, Darrian reached out to them by signing up for their newsletter. From there, she was immediately connected to Cindy Wimsatt, another local parent who has a daughter with Down syndrome.

Initially, Darrian was scared, as she didn’t know what to expect with a Trisomy 21 diagnosis. Connecting with GRADSA was reassuring for the Taylors, as they were able to learn more about Down syndrome, and they knew that they could surround themselves with families who were traveling the same path. Darrian soon decided that she wanted to be as involved with the organization as possible, so that Vann could grow up knowing that he was important. After “liking” the GRADSA Facebook page, the Taylors were able to see all of the programming made available to the families, and it was comforting for them to know that GRADSA would help Vann reach his full potential.

Sadly, Vann passed away shortly before his birth.

However, even in their time of mourning, the Taylors made the decision to form a team for GRADSA’s Buddy Walk®. This was something they had planned to do before Vann’s passing, and Darrian was really excited to get involved. After Vann’s passing, many family members asked how they could help, so Darrian invited them to contribute to their walk team, Little Vann Man. She wants to help GRADSA continue to provide all of the wonderful support and programming for individuals with Down syndrome and their families. “It’s what our son would have wanted us to do,” she shared. “I just want the Buddy Walk® to be something for me and my family to remember Vann by. Though he never actually lived a day on this earth, we had so many plans for his future. Being involved with GRADSA was one of those things, and I don’t want to just walk away from that.”

Additionally, Darrian has offered to mentor other families who receive a prenatal diagnosis, as she feels her story could help others. “Just because he’s not here doesn’t mean that I still don’t want to raise awareness. I wouldn’t have done anything differently just because of his diagnosis. My son was a blessing from the moment he was formed, and he taught me and my family so many good things. It breaks my heart that my son couldn’t be a part of something like this, but my husband and I feel led to help as much as we can in his honor.”

Before the walk begins on September 30th, yellow and blue balloons will be released in memory of Vann. To contribute to Little Vann Man, please visit the GRADSA Buddy Walk® site.

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: support@ds-connex.org.

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