Buddy Walk returns to Daniel Island October 20
On Sunday, October 20 Daniel Island will host the 16th annual Buddy Walk at Etiwan Park, located across from Bishop England High School. The Daniel Island based Buddy Walk is one of the largest in the nation and is sponsored by the Down Syndrome Association of the Lowcountry (DSAL). Each year DSAL hosts this family-oriented, fun-filled, day-long event in October as part of Down Syndrome Awareness month to promote acceptance and inclusion of those with Down syndrome and to celebrate their abilities and accomplishments.
DSAL is a local organization established by parent volunteers in the 1990’s. Its mission is to increase awareness of Down syndrome and provide support to new parents. Approximately 6,000 babies are born with Down syndrome in the US each year and there are over 200 parents locally who have children with Down syndrome. For those with Down syndrome, DSAL strives to help enrich their lives through art, athletic and educational programs, employment opportunities and social events, and education. Funds raised from the Buddy Walk will support the National Down Syndrome Society as well as DSAL’s youth camps, educational speakers for parents, outreach to area schools, new parent materials at hospitals and social programs.
“DSAL was the first organization I contacted when we decided to move to Charleston in 2017. One of my biggest concerns was finding the right school for Alex,” said Millie Moehlman, whose 11-year-old son Alex has Down syndrome. “It was wonderful to have such a welcoming and supportive group help us navigate through finding the right school for our son. Ultimately we ended up settling on Daniel Island, which is exactly where we wanted to be. The best thing was the current president of DSAL’s son was also attending Daniel Island School, so an instant friendship was made.”
“I love how DSAL provides support to brand new parents,” added Moehlman. “For some it can be a time of joy, while to others it can be a shock and extremely scary. It was for me when I first found out Alex was diagnosed after birth. It’s nice to have a group of parents to lean on that have gone through or are going through the same experiences you are.”
This will be the Moehlman’s third Buddy Walk since moving to Daniel Island. Millie and her husband David are part of the Buddy Walk planning committee. “Our team is Alex’s All Stars; which Alex’s older sister Maddie came up with. Last year we had about 40 teammates walk with us and we hope to grow that every year. We have also been the top fundraising team the past two years we have participated and hope to continue raising funds for this awesome organization,” said Millie Moehlman. “Putting on an event this size takes many volunteers as well as sponsors. We are so thankful for every individual and company that gives their time and resources to help make this celebrated event happen.”
Alex loves playing basketball for Special Olympics, volleyball, swimming and most of all his year old goldendoodle Bailey, a surprise Christmas present from his brother Tyler last year. Tyler thought Alex needed a best friend and someone to grow up with.
“As an individual with special needs, the phone calls for play dates are not received as often as a typical child, so Bailey provides Alex with the best play date every day,” explained Millie.
“The Buddy Walk is very special for those with Down syndrome because they can be with other children and adults like themselves. It promotes awareness and fellowship in this community,” said Millie.
The event begins at noon and includes lunch and carnival food, live music, arts and crafts, eight jump castles and face painting. Four local cheer squads and the Wando High School band will kick off the mile-long walk at 3 p.m. Registration in advance is $10 and $15 day of. Children under 3 are free.
There are over 600 parking spaces available at Bishop England and at the Benefitfocus/T Mobile lots on Fairchild Street, and also in the surrounding neighborhood. Do not park on the grass.
To volunteer or register go to https://www.firstgiving.com/event/buddywalkchs/Lowcountry-Buddy-Walk-2019.