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 Overview & Suggestions

Thank you for your interest in starting a Buddy Walk® in your community! The majority of Buddy Walk® organizers are volunteers who recognize the need for more inclusion in their communities, and they work all year planning a meaningful and educational event for individuals with Down syndrome and their supporters.

Organizer Overview

Below is a brief overview of what is involved in planning a Buddy Walk®. Please note that more complete instructions are available on the steps to register page. Once your Walk is registered you will receive access to the Buddy Walk® Organizer Manual and other helpful materials that are much more comprehensive than what is listed here. For more information you can contact the NDSS Buddy Walk® staff at [email protected].

  1. Determine if there is already a Walk in a local community. NDSS policy prohibits a new Buddy Walk® within 30 miles of an existing Walk. If there is a Buddy Walk® less than 30 miles away, NDSS encourages groups or organizations within close proximity to collaborate on one Walk. NDSS offers the right of first refusal to pre-existing Walks in a geographic region before considering a new Walk.
  2. Select a date and location for your Buddy Walk®. If your Walk is more than 30 miles but less than 45 miles from another Walk, we request that the Walks not be scheduled for the same day or weekend.
  3. Once you complete the registration process, your request will be sent to the Buddy Walk® office. It will be reviewed and if you meet the criteria for holding a Buddy Walk®, you will be emailed a customized Buddy Walk® licensing agreement (which details the terms and conditions of holding a Buddy Walk®) for your event.
  4. Once a signed copy of the license agreement has been received by NDSS, your Walk registration will be processed. If there are no complications, the Walk will be approved and posted on our website. At this point you will be able to access the organizers materials and resources with your login information.
  5. Research the necessary site permit applications and begin developing your Buddy Walk® committee by reaching out to your local parent support group, family, friends and teachers.
  6. Decide on a reasonable event budget and if agreed upon, begin seeking out possible event sponsorship. 
  7. Keep NDSS informed of any changes in your Buddy Walk® (date, location, etc) and remember that your Walk must be registered and approved by NDSS each year.

Organizer Suggestions

Create a Committee

  • Create a committee roster, phone and email list. Keep it updated and distribute it to your committee at every meeting.
  • Take notes and minutes at meetings, distribute them to your committee within a week of your meeting.
  • Give yourself plenty of lead-time to make sure you accomplish all of your objectives. View our suggested timeline (available in the Buddy Walk® Organizer Manual once registration is completed).
  • Try to meet at least once each month and start at least six months prior to your walk.
  • View our sample committee tasks and responsibilities (also available in the Buddy Walk® Organizer Manual once registration is completed).

Determine the Scope of Your Buddy Walk®

  • What geographic areas could be effectively included in your Buddy Walk®?
  • Is there sufficient interest in the Buddy Walk® concept among members of your group and the larger community? To determine this, hold an informational meeting with your members to explain the Buddy Walk® and the national attention and visibility that will be gained from sponsoring one in your area.
  • Decide if you will be organizing a fundraising Buddy Walk®. If you are not a nonprofit organization and would like to hold a fundraising Walk, we recommend reaching out to your local Arc, United Way or other local nonprofit (501c3) organization to assist/partner with you in putting on your walk. NDSS is unable umbrella our nonprofit status over local Walks.

Delegate Responsibility

  • The Committee Chairs will determine specific jobs and responsibilities, and will assign committee members with small, manageable tasks to be completed in small increments of time. This way, you can strive to meet attainable deadlines and celebrate your accomplishments.

Select a Public Site

  • Your Buddy Walk® site can be in a park, boardwalk, school, shopping mall or other site you deemappropriate. You must contact municipal or police authorities to gain approval for use of the site. Depending on your site, you may need to also secure county or state approval.
  • Buddy Walk
  • NDSS Yourway
  • NDSS DS-Ambassadors