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Hannah and the Buddy Walks®- How They've Both Grown
A few memories of Buddy Walks & Hannah
A few memories of Buddy Walks & Hannah
Hannah and the Buddy Walks®- How They've Both Grown

This year will mark the 12th Buddy Walk® event for my family. Sometime in the late spring of 1999, I learned about the Buddy Walk®, which had been developed by the National Down Syndrome Society in 1995 as an awareness campaign and was marketed for local organizations across our nation. At that time in my area an "organization" did not yet exist. A light bulb went off! What better way to celebrate the life of my daughter Hannah than by bringing together the community of children and adults with Down syndrome and their families to have a Buddy Walk®! Never before had I done anything like organizing a community event, but with all the resources and guidance which NDSS had to offer, how hard could it be, right? In the previous year I had made friendships with a few of the other moms across our coast that also gave birth to a child with Down syndrome. Several of them jumped right on board with the work to be done to make the Walk a success. I was, and still am, so grateful for the help they gave in organizing and making a reality the first Buddy Walk® on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The event was held on Saturday, October 23, 1999, in Gautier at the walking track of the local community college. My daughter Hannah was just 22 months old at the time of this, her first Buddy Walk®. Since then she sure has grown up. In recent years Hannah has performed a baton twirling/dance routine at the annual event. At our first Buddy Walk® it was nothing fancy or over the top, but it was fun, positive and a beginning to something which has grown and evolved over the past twelve years for our area. In 1999, there were a total of about 100 people, give or take, at the local Buddy Walk®. In 2010, our local chapter (Gulf Coast Down Syndrome Society) had in attendance approximately 2,500 people! The community involvement at the annual Walks has continually grown so much that the 2011 event is being held in yet another new location to accommodate the crowd. What an awesome problem to have! Thank you NDSS and GCDSS for your continued advocacy and tireless work to share with the nation and our own communities that our children matter and that their lives are not defined by medical terminology, but by the acceptance, love and support we as a whole in society offer to them. My family and I look forward to many more October Buddy Walks for years to come- building a bridge to a brighter future truly can start with just one step.

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Johnnie Phelps, United States, MS
3/15/2016 9:56:51 PM
You rock, Hannah!! I love the special person that you are!!

Michelle Balside, United States, OH
10/3/2011 4:48:17 PM
What a great story!

Mary Sharer-Picard, United States, MS
10/4/2011 8:20:22 AM
Yea Hannah what a wonderful story for Gulf Coast Down Syndrome in Mississippi.

Keith Wilson, United States, MS
10/4/2011 8:20:22 AM
Hannah ROCKS!! Let's see her story WIN! :)

Sherri Ann Pettis, United States, FL
10/5/2011 8:54:43 PM
I Love Ms Hannah She A Special Young Lady

Frankie Pittman, United States, NC
10/8/2011 8:14:36 AM
Hannah is a special person. I had the opportunity to spend time with Hannah last year during a visit to Mississippi to see my father\'s family. She was so sweet and had a beautiful smile all the time. Hannah loves people and her happiness came from mak

Cindy M Hansen, United States, MS
12/17/2011 2:04:12 PM
What a great testament to our local community and to the Buddy Walk philosophy. We are so blessed to have members with vision to dream big and to press on through the fear and unknown. Thank you!!

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