Buddy walk supports those with Down syndrome
Published Sunday, November 7, 2010 7:07PM MST
About 1,500 people bundled up for an annual tradition at Hawrelak Park on Sunday, raising money to help people with a chromosomal disorder live life to the fullest.
The sixth annual Buddy Walk was on, with participants raking in a collective $150,000 that will go to programs and supports for people with Down syndrome.
Beyond the financial boost, many taking part say the event is about showing people how to interact with those who live – and often thrive – with the disorder.
"It's so important. Before we had our daughter we didn't know anything about Down syndrome," said Shelley Wywa, who, along with a team of 50, walked in support of her little girl Elora.
"I think [this event] really helps get the word out there and maybe helping with things like inclusive education and things like that too."
Among those at Sunday's event were two young adults who recently graduated from the Canadian College of Emergency Medical Services.
One of them told CTV she doesn't let her disorder get in the way of going after meaningful goals.
"I can help people in my life and people that I care for," said Tanya of what drives her.
The organizer of the Buddy Walk says her story reflects a truth common for many of the 800 Canadians who are born with Down syndrome each year.
"They work, they've got jobs, they do the same things as normal people," said Tony Roccia.
"It's great to have recognition in the community and it puts us out there."
Tammy O'Donoghue says she's grateful for Sunday's event because it provides an opportunity to celebrate the unique nature of her four-month-old son Ethan.
"He's the best behaved baby and cutest, fun little boy," she said.
She didn't know he had Down syndrome until the day he was born, but says learning the news didn't change the joy of that day.
"It was a shock, but I didn't really care. He is my son and it didn't really make difference to me," she said.
"We're given what we can deal with, so it's not a big deal."
With Files from Dez Melenka