Two hundred and fifty teams competed to raise funds to support The Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee (DSAMT) at the 21st Annual Buddy Walk at The Hermitage on Oct. 27. Among those teams included 10 schools that accepted the “Buddy Walk School Challenge.”
“The Buddy Walk School Challenge” was created to recognize schools that are really getting involved with their students with Down syndrome and showing that support,” said DSAMT executive director Alecia Talbott. “The school raising the most money receives a $1,000 grant for its special education program, a team headquarters, professional training and a big trophy.”
“Mt. Juliet Elementary is a proud supporter of DSAMT and the National Buddy Walk,” said Ginger Ash, principal at Mt. Juliet Elementary School. “As a school, our faculty and staff foster a community culture where ALL students are included, celebrated, and supported. We are honored to be able to accept this award and are flattered to be recognized at this wonderful event.”
“The Nashville Buddy Walk is all about celebrating all individuals, promoting acceptance and inclusion in our community,” said Talbott. “Having our local schools participate in this event each year has meant a great deal to our participants with Down syndrome and their families.”
Mt. Juliet Elementary has three students with Down syndrome, and their Boy Scout Pack presented the flag at the event Saturday for the third year in a row.
The Nashville Buddy Walk is Tennessee’s largest event to raise awareness of and celebrate individuals with Down syndrome. It is a free annual event that took place on Saturday, Oct. 27, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and included a live music concert by the Blues Brokers, food, inflatables, vendors, exhibitors, activities, crafts, games, character meet and greet, and more. Two-hundred and fifty teams competed to be the top fundraisers. More than a dozen school cheer teams from Middle Tennessee cheered on teams during the under one-mile parade-like walk, and everyone with Down syndrome was presented a medal at the end of the walk.
“This event recognizes and celebrates those with Down syndrome. Everyone quickly sees that individuals with Down syndrome have extraordinary gifts to contribute to communities,” said Talbott. “That is why this event has become such a well-known and popular family activity for all of Middle TN, not just those who have a direct connection to someone with Down syndrome.”
The Nashville Buddy Walk is a Nashville community event, open to anyone. It was one of more than 250 Buddy Walks taking place across the U.S. CEO and President of the National Down Syndrome Society, Sara Hart Weir also attended the event.
Proceeds from the Nashville Buddy Walk fund DSAMT programs, such as the First Call program that provides care packages, education and support for families with a new diagnosis of Down syndrome, first responder trainings, workshops for caregivers and educators, advocacy to support legislative initiatives, and awareness events to celebrate those with Down Syndrome and to educate the community about the important contributions they make to society.
Founded in 1996, DSAMT is the leading resource in Middle Tennessee for education, advocacy, support and community for and about Down syndrome. Its mission is to ensure individuals with Down syndrome are valued for their extraordinary gifts and contributions, empowering them to pursue meaningful, included lives by providing education, advocacy, support and community for people with Down syndrome and their families, and serving as a resource for educators, healthcare professionals, employers and the entire Middle Tennessee community.