Thousands flooded Sawyer Point on Saturday morning for the 12th
Annual Buddy Walk benefiting the Down Syndrome Association of Greater
A gorgeous morning set the scene for more than 10 thousand
people to walk a mile in celebration of those born with down syndrome.
"It is a celebration,"
said Alan Abes, a parent of a child with Down syndrome. "I think what a lot of
people don't realize, is that raising a kid with Down syndrome is really just like
raising any other kid. We have great times, and bad times, and frustrating
times, and encouraging times. And this is really just to celebrate that their
kids just like anybody else."
Alan's son Harrison is 22
months old. He's happy, curious and a blessing to parents Alan and Monica.
"We were at
Children's, in the ICU, after he was born and we got a card for the Down Syndrome Association," explains Alan. "We called them about a month after we
got home and they sent somebody out right away. We talked to them, we saw that it
was a great organization and there were a lot of families like ours and we decided
to be active right away."
Through the Down Syndrome
Association of Greater Cincinnati, Harrison has learned sign language to help
communicate with his parents.
"It's a big deal that
he can tell us," explains Harrison's mother, Monica. "I mean, he's signing
three things at once right now. He's signing banana, and milk, and cracker. And
it's a big deal that he can communicate with us and we can communicate with him
before he's verbally able to tell us what his wants and needs are."
As the families and
programs continue to make strides, it's also a record year for the Buddy Walk.
"We've already raised
more money going into this event than ever have in our history, so we're
thrilled," said Jim Hudson, Executive Director of the Down Syndrome Association
of Greater Cincinnati. "And that fuels over half of our budget throughout the year."
Even though Monica and
Alan never planned on being so actively involved in DSAGC, the Buddy Walk is
becoming an annual event for the family.
""It looks like an incredible time, with
a lot of people and the fundraising so far has been fantastic," said Alan. "I
see that there's a booth here for more donations, so it's amazing to see people
walk up and donating and it's just a phenomenal event."