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 hundreds of local Walks taking place across the US and select international countries. Each year hundreds of thousands of walkers collectively raise funds to support local programs and services as well as national  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.

  • Website promotion Our site is the top searched website for the Buddy Walk® and information about Down syndrome, putting your message right where it can be seen.
  • NDSS Staff members Our dedicated staff of experienced Walk planners and fundraisers will assist you in all aspects of your planning . We can also join you at your event.
  • Expert advice Everyone needs a little help along the way, and it’s best when we all support one another. We’ll also offer you access to experts through our training sessions.
  • Training Sessions and Templates Organizers and committee members are invited to attend trainings presented by NDSS. Our comprehensive handbooks will give you step-by-step instructions on the Walk planning process, including planning a virtual event.
  • Buddy Walk® Organizer Portal This section of our website is for organizers only. This is where you can download content such as Buddy Walk® logos, templates and letters. You can also view and use materials from others Walks and update your  listing.
  • Regional and National Partners These opportunities will be available to you as they come. Information will be provided as partnerships are secured.

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 Portal 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.