Buddy Walk set for Saturday at Donner Park

It won’t be a regular walk in the park.

There will be music and prizes; and between the laughter and the celebration participants might even forget they are exercising.

The 15th annual Buddy Walk is not about focusing on the difficulties of life with Down syndrome but on celebrating the things that make people unique.

As part of National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, the Columbus Area Down Syndrome Support Group will host its annual Buddy Walk on Saturday at Donner Park.

All Columbus residents are invited to join in the walk free of charge, although fundraising efforts are encouraged.

“The Buddy Walk raises awareness of Down syndrome, and it’s also a fundraiser for the family supports and services we offer,” said Tom Milvert, Buddy Walk chairman.

The support group’s services are varied, Milvert said, and include educational events, social events, Down syndrome books for families affected unfamiliar with the diagnosis, transitional counseling to help people with Down syndrome find their way in the workplace and more.

The group also supports the Special Olympics.

The Buddy Walk is the largest fundraiser the Columbus Area Down Syndrome Support Group puts on each year to raise money for its services. Last year’s walk raised about $15,000 for the organization, Milvert said.

“We originally started the group with very little resources,” he said. “Now it’s about, ‘How can we provide more support in the community?’”

Registration for the walk begins at Donner Park at 10:30 a.m., and the event will begin at noon.

Participants will be treated to a DJ and door prizes, as well as a lunch after the walk concludes.

People from all walks of life, including those with Down syndrome, those affected by it and those who just want to help, will join in the day’s celebrations.

“What you’ll find is that for some folks with Down syndrome, the Buddy Walk is one of their favorite events of the year,” Milvert said.

While meeting with other residents who support the cause is a fun experience, Milvert said his own reasons for leading the walk are personal.

“I have a 15-year-old daughter with Down syndrome,” he said. “When I found out, I had a desire to learn everything I could about Down syndrome.”

The Buddy Walk is sponsored by the Arc of Bartholomew County.

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Columbus Area Down Syndrome Support Group Buddy Walk

  • When: Saturday, registration at 10:30 a.m., walk at noon
  • Where: Donner Park, 739 22nd St.
  • What: Walking, prizes, music, games
  • Cost: Free, but fundraising encouraged
  • Information or to start a fundraising campaign, visit cadssg.org.