Hundreds of people raised awareness of the Down Syndrome Association of Sudbury Nov. 6 during the fifth Buddy Walk.
The walk is designed to raise the profile of the association and to raise awareness of the fact there are families with children or other members with Down syndrome living in the community, as well as to let those families know the association is here to support them, said executive member Jason Freimanis, who is father to three boys, of which the youngest, Liam, was born with Down syndrome.
The walk featured players from the Sudbury Wolves, as well. Greater Sudbury Police chief Frank Elsner and his wife joined Freimanis and his family for the walk. While the event isn't designed as a fundraiser, participants and sponsors managed to collect $8,700 for the DSAS.
The Buddy Walk started at Lockerby Composite School. Participants walked to the entrance to Health Sciences North and the Sudbury Health Unit. The Buddy Walk is Sudbury's way to recognize 2011 National Down Syndrome Awareness Week, which started Nov. 1 and runs until Nov. 7.
This week celebrates the lives of Canadians with Down syndrome, who are going to school, working, getting married and making important contributions to the community.
Down syndrome is a naturally occurring chromosomal arrangement that has always existed and is universal across racial, gender and socio-economic lines, according to the DSAS. It is the result of extra genetic material associated with the 21st chromosome and its symptoms vary from individual to individual, but it more commonly results in an effect on learning.
The DSAS is a non-profit organization that advocates for acceptance and opportunities for persons with Down syndrome. The organization supports more than 55 families in the area.
“It's a parent-driven association,” Freimanis said. “All of the members of the executive are parents to a child with Down syndrome, or have a family members with Down syndrome. We're unique in that sense, and there are close ties as a result.”
Posted by Arron Pickard