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] 

Organizer FAQs

Please note that once you complete registration for your Buddy Walk® you will have access to the Buddy Walk® Organizer Manual, which has more comprehensive information and answers to the questions below. If you further questions that you need answered before completing your registration, please contact the NDSS Buddy Walk® staff at [email protected].

How long does it take to organize a Buddy Walk®?

While some groups plan very successful Buddy Walk® events in three to four months; NDSS suggests that you allow six to 12 months to plan your Buddy Walk®. We recommend that groups set realistic goals and build on them each year - doing too much at once can be quite overwhelming.

Can I organize a BUddy Walk® if I am not associated with a nonprofit organization?

You do not need to be affiliated with a nonprofit organization to hold a Buddy Walk®.  However if you plan to incorporate fundraising into your Walk you will need to be associated with a nonprofit organization in order for the donations to be tax-deductible.  


Many venues such as parks, schools and county/city recreational areas will require your group to have an insurance policy to host a Buddy Walk® on the site. Be sure to ask this question during your first site visit or conversation with the site manager.

If your group is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization or has partnered with one for your Walk, there is a good chance that you already possess the insurance you need. Be sure to request a Certificate of Insurance (COI) from your insurance agent and submit it with the venue's application materials.

If you are not with a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and your group does not have independent event insurance, you will need to find out the amount of insurance coverage required by the venue and then contact an insurance agent in your area. The average amount of one-time event insurance usually runs between $250 and $1,000 depending upon the location and size of your Buddy Walk®.

We recommend that you contact groups in your community that have held similar walk-a-thon events to ascertain what direction they took when securing event insurance.

Do I have to charge a registration fee or require participants to raise money?

In additional to providing a wonderful platform for advocacy, the Buddy Walk® can also be a great way to raise money to support local and national Down syndrome programs and services. While many groups choose not to incorporate fundraising into their event, some choose to sell t-shirts or have a nominal registration fee to offset the costs of the event. Whether or not to charge a registration fee or collect money at the Buddy Walk® is something for you and the rest of your committee to decide. NDSS regularly compiles information about the pros and cons of fundraising and fees, which are shared in the Buddy Walk® Organizer Manual. 

What are the benefits of incorporating a 'team' model? Is there a minimum number of people needed to form a team?

Each year, more and more groups across the country encourage families and businesses to participate in their Buddy Walk® by forming a team. Walks have found that having teams is an easy way to raise money for their organization and/or increase participation in the event. While the definition of a team may vary from Walk to Walk, the basic premise remains the same. A team is a group of individuals walking (and fundraising) together. More often than not, the team walks on behalf of an individual with Down syndrome and names their team after him/her.

Marketing and public relations takes a lot of time and effort. We have a small Buddy Walk® committee and no PR expertise. How can we make this happen?

You might consider reaching outside your organization for assistance. Students at local colleges and universities who are majoring in communications, marketing or public relations are often eager for "real life" opportunities to apply their skills. Advertising or PR agencies often have pro bono programs in which they offer free counsel and services for a specific project. Your corporate sponsors might also be willing to offer support from their marketing/communications departments.

If none of these options are available to you, all registered Walks receive access to basic media tips in the Buddy Walk® Organizer Manual and helpful materials provided by NDSS (posters, PSAs). At your Buddy Walk® publicize your needs for the following year by including a sign at the registration table seeking volunteers with PR/Marketing skills.

Do I have to hold a Buddy Walk® in the fall?

Most Buddy Walk® events take place in the fall because October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month but you are not required to plan your event in any specific month. Walks are currently held from March to November based on availability of venues and participants, and provide a wide opportunity to promote awareness and inclusion of individuals with Down syndrome.

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