A favorite day on Daniel Island, Buddy Walk returns October 4
A very famous Buddy once said, “I just like to smile. Smiling’s my favorite.”
If he could make it through the seven levels of the candy cane forest and the sea of swirly twirly gumdrops to Daniel Island, he would surely find himself up to his elfin ears in his favorite, and among thousands of fantastic fellow buddies, on an upcoming fall Sunday.
On October 4, Etiwan Park will host the annual Down Syndrome Association of the Lowcountry’s (DSAL) Buddy Walk, now in its 12th year. It is a day of fundraising, friendships, and an extra mile to smile.
The day-long festival truly celebrates children, friends, and neighbors with Down syndrome and fosters understanding and camaraderie. It is also an opportunity for the community to support all that DSAL does: hosting youth camps, sponsoring educational speakers, providing hospitals with parent materials, and collaborating with area schools.
The event kicks off at noon, with family tents, inflatables, food vendors, and kids’ activities taking place across the park’s huge lawn. The Dave Landeo Band is returning to provide live music on the main stage, and performances from other community groups will take place throughout the afternoon. Then, of course, at 3 p.m., the one-mile walk commences, winding through neighborhood streets and gathering back at Etiwan Park.
Dawn Durante, a longtime Buddy Walk parent volunteer and mom of fifth grader Joe, who has Down syndrome, is candid about what the day means to her, particularly with the presence of so many supportive youth participants. “There will be tons of families of people with Down syndrome, it will be a fun day and the kids will all have a blast,” she shares, “but it feels like they are there just for my family. I feel like the students are all saying to me, ‘It’s OK. We are Joe’s friends and we’ve got his back.’ No feeling like it. They will lift me up all year and not even realize they have done it.”
This year’s Buddy Walk sponsors include Roper St. Francis, Whole Foods, and TheHoove.com, and sponsorships are still being accepted. Volunteers are needed as well, for everything from decorating and face painting to parking and registration assistance. Visit Sign Up Genius at http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0d4facad2fa4f94-2015 to view all the volunteer needs and get registered. Many schools, such as Bishop England, Wando, Academic Magnet, Mason Prep, and Ashley Hall have already arranged blocks of volunteer spots, so students are asked to check with their community service coordinators prior to signing up online.
Registration for Buddy Walk can be completed in advance at https://www.firstgiving.com/buddywalkchs/buddies. DSAL families setting up tents may begin doing so at 10:00 a.m. the morning of the event; the area for tents will be clearly marked, but please note that cars are not permitted on the grass for unloading.
Learn more about DSAL at dsalowcountry.org, and email email@example.com with any further Buddy Walk questions. Then get out there on October 4, and smile with buddies old and new!