The Buddy Walk® was established by NDSS in 1995 and has grown to be the world’s largest and most recognizable Down syndrome awareness program, with over 250 Walks taking place in 50 states and select international countries. Each year 315,000 walkers collectively raise nearly $13 million which is used to support local programs and services as well as national advocacy initiatives.


Why Walk with NDSS: Buddy Walk® Organizer Benefits

Are you wanting to organize a Buddy Walk® in your community but don’t know where to start? Thanks to a partnership between NDSS and local Down syndrome support groups, NDSS can provide you with all the materials you need to host a successful event.

  • 75 Color posters and NDSS brochuresThese free posters and brochures will help promote your Walk and give you something to distribute at your walk respectively. Details on how to request these items will be provided by the Buddy Walk® office.
  • Website promotionOur site is the top searched website for the Buddy Walk® and information about Down syndrome, putting your message right where it can be seen and noticed.
  • NDSS Staff membersOur dedicated staff is available to assist you in all aspects of your planning endeavors. We can also join you at your event.
  • Organizer’s portalOur comprehensive handbooks will give you step-by-step instructions on the Walk planning process
  • Fundraising adviceEveryone needs a little help along the way, and it’s best when we all support one another. We’ll also offer you publicity tips and media guidance in addition to general help.
  • Buddy Walk® Organizer Website AccessThis section of our website is for organizers only. This is where you can download content such as Buddy Walk® logos, templates and letters. You’ll also be able to view and use materials from others Walks and update your Walk listing.
  • Customized Radio PSARecorded by the Emmy-award winning Imagination Movers, this message will help promote your Walk. Information regarding PSAs and how to request them will be provided by the Buddy Walk® office in the spring of each year.
  • Guidance from the NDSS National Policy Center & other NDSS programsThe National Policy Center provides you with current information about NDSS policy initiatives and priorities, as well as ways families can get involved in local legislation. You can also get involved in our #DSWORKS® and Inclusive Health & Sport program.
  • Buddy Walk® Prize InformationA great incentive for others is through prizes such as participant and volunteer shirts and discounted promotional items. You’ll be given information on how you can purchase these prizes for your Walk.
  • Regional and National Partner OpportunityThese opportunities will be available to you as they come. Information will be provided as partnerships are secured.
  • Buddy Walk® Conference InviteOrganizers and committee members are invited to attend the annual Buddy Walk® Conference presented by NDSS.

Your commitment to Buddy Walk® is the reason it remains the most widely recognized Down syndrome awareness program both nationally and worldwide. On behalf of NDSS, thank you!

Below are brief notes over what is involved in planning a Buddy Walk®. Once your walk is registered, you will receive access to the Buddy Walk® Organizer Page and other helpful materials. For more information, visit the steps to register page for complete instructions or contact the NDSS Buddy Walk® team at

  1. Determine if there is already a Walk in your local community.
    NDSS prohibits a new Buddy Walk® within 30 miles of an existing Walk. If there is already one in your area, collaborate with those in your community to best serve others. 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. Wait for confirmation from the Buddy Walk® office.
    Once you complete the registration process, 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. Receive approval from NDSS
    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. Begin developing your Buddy Walk® committee
    Research the necessary site permit applications and begin reaching out to your local parent support group, family, friends and teachers.
  6. Decide on a budget
    Make sure your event budget is reasonable and if agreed upon, begin seeking out possible event sponsorship.
  7. Keep NDSS informed
    NDSS needs to be aware of any changes in your Buddy Walk® (date, location, etc.) and remember that your Walk must be registered and approved by NDSS each year.


  • Your next steps in hosting a Buddy Walk® in your community can be found in detail in our Organizer portal handbooks for committees. Here are some tips:


    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 at meetings and distribute minutes to your committee within a few days after your meeting.
    • Make sure you accomplish all of your objectives at each meeting. View our suggested timeline (available in the Buddy Walk® Organizer Manual once registration is complete).
    • Try to meet once a month and begin planning 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 complete).


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 to umbrella our nonprofit status over local Walks.

Delegate responsibility

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


Select a public site

  • Your Buddy Walk® can be in a park, boardwalk, school, shopping mall or another site you deem appropriate. You must contact municipal or police authorities to gain approval for use of the site. Dependent upon your site, you may need to seek county or state approval.