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Celebrating those with Down syndrome

Local News

The annual “Buddy Walk” is a celebration for families who have a member with Down syndrome.

This year the Flower City Down Syndrome Network will host the celebration inside the RIT Gordon Field House. It will be held this Saturday, October 13 beginning at 9:00 a.m. with the Buddy Walk going off at 11:00 a.m.

Brian Callahan, the President of the Flower City Down Syndrome Network, discussed the Buddy Walk and its impact Friday during News 8 at Noon.

“It’s our main fundraiser for the year,” Callahan said. “It’s our only one. We like to concentrate on doing one so that we’re not spread out throughout the year because we are a 100 percent volunteer organization so we don’t want to be spread too thin. But this is really about celebrating the day. So we do the walk, which is kind of secondary, and a lot of people get teams together with the shirts and the families and their crews, and things like that, and we do the walk, but there’s really lots of activities for the kids, and beyond the raffles and the merchandise, it’s really just getting the families together.”

While the Buddy Walk is a focal point on the calendar, the FCDSN helps families year round. “The money that we raise with this walk actually carries us through the year,” said Callahan. “One of the main things that we’re able to do with it is put materials into hospitals, because we can’t go into hospitals and contact these people because of all of the regulations, but what it does is it enables the people at the hospitals to talk to the expecting families or new families with Down syndrome and give us a call. And then what we can do is we can connect them with a mentorship program called ‘First Call,’ and what that does is allows them to be in contact with a family for a year, and they can be in contact with them as much or as little as necessary.”

As the father of a child with Down syndrome, Callahan knows first hand the value of this interaction. “It’s extremely important because we’re often afraid of what we don’t know, not only us as parents but the community as well. So we’re able to take this experience and hopefully, and intelligently, put it out there to say, hey look, we understand what this is. We went through the same things. Because that’s what they’re doing. They’re not just talking to a counselor. They’re actually talking to a family that has a member with Down syndrome and covering those uncertainties and fears at the very beginning, and hopefully translate that into the celebration that we’re going to be doing tomorrow.”

To see the entire interview with Callahan, click the link below.

For more information about the Buddy Walk and Flower City Down Syndrome Network, visit

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