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

The Buddy Walk® program provides a special and unique partnership between NDSS and local Down syndrome support groups through a network of resources and materials. NDSS will provide your Walk:

  • Up to 75 free color posters to help you promote your Walk and up to 100 free NDSS brochures to distribute at your Walk (Details on how to request them will be provided by the Buddy Walk® office)
  • Promotion of your Walk and website on our site, the top searched website for the Buddy Walk® and Down syndrome
  • Dedicated NDSS staff members available to assist you in all aspects of your planning endeavors
  • A comprehensive Organizer’s portal to guide you through the Walk planning process
  • Fundraising advice, publicity tips and media guidance, in addition to general help, for all event organizers and committee members by NDSS staff
  • Access to a special Organizer section on the Buddy Walk® website where you can download content such as Buddy Walk® logos, templates and letters, view and use successful materials from other Walks, and update your Walk listing
  • A customized radio PSA recorded by the Emmy-award winning Imagination Movers to promote your Walk. (Information regarding PSAs and how to request will be provided by the Buddy Walk® office in the spring of each year)
  • The NDSS National Policy Center offers guidance for the design of advocacy exhibit tables that feature current information about NDSS policy initiatives and priorities and ways families can get involved in legislation locally
  • Information on purchasing Buddy Walk® incentive prizes, participant and volunteer shirts and promotional items at discounted prices through our preferred vendor and other partners
  • Opportunities to work with regional and national partners, when available (Information will be provided as partnerships are secured)
  • Organizers and committee members are invited to attend the annual Buddy Walk® Conference presented by NDSS. The 2018 Conference will be in Orlando, FL.

NDSS is proud to acknowledge the support of the hard work of our organizers. Their commitment ensures that the Buddy Walk® remains the most widely recognized Down syndrome awareness program both nationally and worldwide!

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 Page and other helpful materials. For more information, you can contact the NDSS Buddy Walk® team at

  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.


  • 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).


  • 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.


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


  • Your Buddy Walk® site 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. Depending on your site, you may need to also secure county or state approval.