The leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome.

National Down Syndrome Society
8 E 41st Street, 8th Floor
New York New York 10017
[email protected] 

2017 Registration, Hotel & Schedule

Registration is open for the Buddy Walk® on WashingtoN scheduled for april 4-5, 2017.



The NDSS Buddy Walk® on Washington is an annual two-day advocacy conference that brings the Down syndrome community together to advocate for legislative priorities that impact the lives of people with Down syndrome and their families. Advocates receive training on the first day and then head to Capitol Hill on the second day to meet with Members of Congress and their staff to discuss legislative issues that would advance education, research and healthcare for people with Down syndrome. Self-advocates are the best advocates and are highly encouraged to attend.

The 2017 Buddy Walk® on Washington will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 4-5, 2017, at the Westin Arlington Gateway hotel in Arlington, Virginia, and on Capitol Hill. The advocacy training on April 4 will provide an opportunity to learn from NDSS about our key priorities for the 2017 Buddy Walk® on Washington. You will hear presentations on the key “asks”, meet your state delegations and network with affiliates and advocates across the country. Attendance is encouraged for the full day of advocacy training, beginning with advocacy at the state level in the morning and continuing with advocacy at the federal level in the afternoon. 

For more details about the Buddy Walk® on Washington , please visit our page with answers to frequently asked questions and see pictures from the 2016 Buddy Walk® on Washington.

On April 3, 2017, the day before the Buddy Walk® on Washington, NDSS will host the first annual #DSWORKS™ Employment Conference also at the Westin Arlington Gateway hotel in Arlington, Virginia. This half day conference is for individuals with Down syndrome (age 14 and older) who are preparing for the workforce or are currently employed, as well as family members/caregivers and employers. Please consider attending both the Buddy Walk® on Washington and the #DSWORKS™ Employment Conference

Cost and Registration

Registration is now open for the 2017 Buddy Walk® on Washington. Click here to register today! The registration deadline is March 27, 2017. 

The cost for the Buddy Walk® on Washington is $50 per person for those age 6 and over. Children age 5 and under are free.

The cost for the NDSS #DSWORKS™ Employment Conference on April 3 is $30 per person.

Those who register for both the #DSWORKS™ Employment Conference and the Buddy Walk® on Washington may receive a $10 discount; upon registering for either conference, registrants will receive a confirmation email that contains an offer code to use when registering for the other conference to save $10 per person.

Hotel Information

The 2017 Buddy Walk® on Washington training session will be held at the Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel, 801 North Glebe Road, Arlington, Virginia 22203

Update on February 15, 2017: The Westin Arlington Gateway is sold out on April 5 and only a few rooms remain in our block at $239 per night on April 2-4. To try to reserve a room at the Westin, click here or call 888-627-7076 and mention NDSS. We have arranged for another block at $239 per night at the Holiday Inn Arlington at Ballston, 4610 Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA, which is a short walk from the Westin. To reserve a room at the Holiday Inn, click here or call 866-876-4238 and mention "NDSS overflow". The deadline to reserve a room at the Holiday Inn is 5:00 PM Eastern time on March 15, 2017. 



The Buddy Walk® on Washington Advocacy Conference is scheduled for April 4-5, 2017, preceded by the NDSS #DSWORKS™ Employment Conference on April 3 from 1:00 - 6:00 PM.

Participants staying at the hotel on April 3 have the option to sign up to join others for dinner at their own expense. 

For a map of the meeting rooms at the hotel, please follow this link and scroll to the second page.

6:30 AM - Rise and Run. Meet in the Westin hotel lobby for a run/walk on the Custis Trail. We will start as a group for the out-and-back route with 3 and 5 mile options. Maps will be provided. *Optional 

9:00 - 10:00 AM - Registration for those arriving in morning (2nd Floor, Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel)

10:00 - 11:30 AM - State Advocacy Training (F. Scott Fitzgerald Ballroom, Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel) *Optional but highly beneficial for advocates who want to make a difference on the state level.*

11:30 AM - 1:15 PM - Registration for those arriving for afternoon training session (2nd Floor, Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel)

11:45 AM - 1:00 PM - Self-Advocates Speak Out Lunch and Panel Discussion - an exclusive event for self-advocates age 16 and older hosted by NDSS Self-Advocate Advisory Board (Ernest Hemingway Salon, Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel)

11:45 - 1:00 PM - Lunch (F. Scott Fitzgerald Ballroom, Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel)

1:15 – 5:00 PM - Federal Advocacy Training (F. Scott Fitzgerald Ballroom, Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel) *Attendance is highly encouraged for those going to Capitol Hill on April 5.*

  • Welcome Address
  • Overview of 2017 NDSS Legislative Agenda & Asks
  • Soapbox / Capitol Hill Meeting Schedules Provided
  • State Delegations Meet / Question & Answer Session

5:00 - 7:00 PM - Dinner on your own (There is a restaurant in the hotel and many others close to the hotel.)

7:00 - 9:00 PM - Buddy Walk® on Washington Social - Enjoy dessert, socialize, network and dance. Dress code is casual to business casual but feel free to dress up if you like! Hosted by the NDSS Self-Advocate Advisory Board (SAAB). (F. Scott Fitzgerald Ballroom, Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel)

wednesday, APRIL 5: CAPITOL HILL

6:00 - 8:00 AM - Continental breakfast 

7:00 AM - Depart hotel for Capitol Hill - Participants may purchase a one-way bus ticket for $10 per person or may take a taxi/Uber to Capitol Hill at their own expense or take the Metro (subway train). The Ballston Metro Station is .3 miles from the Westin Hotel and the Metro train takes about 30 minutes from the Ballston Metro Station to the Capitol South Metro Station. The US Capitol is .3 miles from the Capitol South Metro Station. 

8:00 AM - Group photograph at US Capitol - The photo will be taken on the steps of US House of Representatives, which is on the south side of the US Capitol Building. Meet on the steps on the east side of the House, facing the Library of Congress. (See star on this map for location.)

8:30 AM - 12:00 PM Capitol Hill visits (Meetings will be scheduled for each advocate by Soapbox Consulting)

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM - Champion of Change Awards Luncheon on Capitol Hill (Location: Capitol Hill) 

1:30 PM - 5:00 PM - Capitol Hill visits (Meetings will be scheduled for each advocate by Soapbox Consulting. We encourage participants to schedule their flights as late as possible in the day on April 5 to allow time for possible late afternoon meetings on Capitol Hill.) 

Schedule is subject to change.

Scheduling Congressional Visits on Capitol Hill

This year, we are again working with Soapbox Consulting to schedule meetings with congressional offices. All participants will receive their final meeting schedule from Soapbox via email in the afternoon on Friday, March 31.  


Self-advocates (individuals with Down syndrome) are strongly encouraged to attend the Buddy Walk® on Washington! It is wonderful for Members of Congress and their staff to have the opportunity to interact directly with self-advocates and their families, and it is empowering for self-advocates to directly participate in the process of urging policy change to improve their lives.  

Self-advocates will be briefed on the legislative issues and are invited to participate in all webinars and training sessions. Also, on the first day of the conference, April 4, self-advocates who are age 16 and older are invited to join the NDSS Self-Advocate Advisory Board (SAAB) for the Self-Advocates Speak Out Lunch and Panel Discussion. The Board will share their expertise as seasoned self-advocates in this presentation for self-advocates by self-advocates. Please note that this event is for self-advocates only. For more information about the luncheon, please contact NDSS Director of Programs & Community Outreach, Vanessa Quick, at [email protected].

In addition, each self-advocate who attends the Buddy Walk® on Washington should prepare a brief one-page bio to be left at all your congressional visits, so bring at least five copies with you. Bios should include a photo, contact information, a few sentences about yourself (where you work, go to school, interests), why you have come to the Buddy Walk® on Washington, how current legislation will impact you and your family and a request for Members of Congress to co-sponsor this legislation. Here are two sample bios:

Preparing a bio is a great way to leave an impression - even on people you don’t meet in person.


For more information about the Buddy Walk® on Washington, please see our frequently asked questions or contact NDSS Advocacy & Public Policy Associate, Julie Ryan-Silva, at [email protected]

Page last updated: February 16, 2017

  • Buddy Walk
  • NDSS Yourway
  • NDSS DS-Ambassadors