The Central Illinois Down Syndrome (CIDSO) will host the 12th Annual Buddy Walk on Saturday, September 17 at Prairieland Elementary School located on East Raab Road in Normal near the intersection of Henry Street.The “Buddy Walk” was developed by the National Down Syndrome Society in 1995 to promote acceptance and awareness of people with Down Syndrome. Individuals with Down Syndrome and their families are encouraged to invite "buddies" to join them in the one mile “Buddy Walk".
The local event has raised close to $50,000 (net proceeds) over the past 3 years and typically has attracted 600-750 participants. Funds raised from the Buddy Walk support the literacy program at ISU, help fund speech and language programs at ISU, supply grants to activities and schools, sponsor awareness events, and other worthy activities as they arise. These programs help persons with Down Syndrome reach their highest level of achievement and success in life.
The morning begins at 9:00 am with event registration, food, games, and entertainment. There will also be a photo booth available along with face painting, “balloon art”, a “bouncy-house”, “Paws Giving Independence” (group of service dogs), the IWU basketball team, the Normal Community West Dance Team, plus a “meet and greet” table for parents. (Members of the ISU football team have been known to show-up and participate in the event – dependent on their game schedule for that week).
The Service Dogs and the “meet and greet” table for parents are new features in this year’s event. The photo booth and balloon art are activities that are returning to the event after an absence of several years.
Prior to the start of the walk, Bob and Julie Dobski (owners of local McDonald’s restaurants and Little Jewels Learning Centers) will receive the Partners in Progress Award for "exceptional effort in promoting the inclusion and acceptance of individuals with developmental disabilities". Individuals with Down syndrome have been or are employed at Little Jewels and McDonalds
The walk steps-off at 10:30 am and will follow the paved path behind Prairieland and into the adjacent neighborhood before returning to Prairieland along the sidewalk the north side of Raab Road (where they are cheered on by members of the Normal Community West cheer-leaders).
The cost to register for the event is $5. Registration can be paid in advance or at the door or paid at the event. To register early go to www.cidsobuddywalk.org.