The Buddy Walk is an event held across the nation to promote down syndrome awareness. But a member of the Down Syndrome Support Group of Bryan College Station says, walking is just a warm-up.
"We also do a bar-b-que, children's games and music so they can dance because children with down syndrome love to dance," said Christy Knight, president, Down Syndrome Support Group of Bryan-College Station.
Down syndrome is a genetic condition that affects more than 350,000 Americans. Brad Hodges is a new dad to a baby girl with down syndrome. When he and his wife found out they were having a baby with the condition, it took them a little time to adjust to the news.
"When we found out, of course it was hard to deal with at first. But, that feeling subsides very quickly when you realize what a special child you are having," said Brad Hodges, parent.
Buddy Walk was developed by the National Down Syndrome Society to promote acceptance and inclusion of all people with down syndrome. This is the second year a Buddy Walk has been held for families in the Brazos Valley.
"A lot of people don't understand, they hear down syndrome and they don't realize it's as common as it is," said Hodges.
Educating the public and promoting awareness is a major focus of the local support group. But their work doesn't end there, Knight says parents of children with down syndrome also need to be educated.
"It's to make parents aware this is not the end of the world. These are the steps you take to make sure your child has a productive life," said Knight.
"We're a pair of young parents who didn't really know anything about parenthood more or less parenthood of a child with down syndrome," said Hodges.
After the success of today's event, members of the local support group are well on their way to educating the community. This year Buddy Walk doubled in size attracting a crowd of more than 400 hundred.