The Down Syndrome Association of Inland Empire – formerly of Hemet – is inviting residents to participate in the annual Buddy Walk for Down Syndrome and Harvest Festival from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6 at Mt. San Jacinto College campus.
The price of entry is $10, and includes a T-shirt, goody bag, and a Buddy Walk flag badge. There is no charge for individuals with Down syndrome.
“The Buddy Walk is a slow-paced one mile, designed for those with special needs.” according to Down Syndrome Association of Inland Empire President Adele Cox. “For the first time, we are also offering 5k and 10k races, starting at 6 a.m. before the walk begins.”
Following the walk, kids, parents, and all attendees will enjoy the pumpkin patch, rides, kid’s zone, as well as special activities organized by Home Depot.
“We will also have presenters and resources available for special needs families, including sports therapies, music therapies and more,” Cox said, “All (is) designed to show families what is out there to benefit their loved ones. A favorite is the drum therapy which is new in the valley, letting kids play drums, sing and dance. It’s loads of fun for the kids.”
Opportunities to enter the race and to sponsor teams, are available on the DSAIE race website.
This seventh annual walk, and the number of cities and members that will benefit, shows just how far the organization has come.
“When we began our organization seven years ago, there was only one special needs support group in Temecula, and Down syndrome was a very small part of it. I realized that unless my daughter, Marisa (now 10), saw someone else with Down syndrome at school, she might never see anyone else like her. All I wanted was to promote awareness and to help build a community of acceptance for my daughter. And we’re doing that,” Cox said.
October is national Down syndrome awareness month, and the perfect opportunity to promote awareness.
“Our fall fund raiser enables us to provide special events, outings, and play dates for the year,” Cox said, “Families are never charged for our outings, play dates, or holiday parties.”
Funds will also be raised to provide information resource packs for families when their newborn has been diagnosed.
“Often, new parents often don’t know a child has Down syndrome before it is born. We aim to promote awareness and maintain a community for people just like them.”
The organization now supports families in seventeen Southern California cities, including Temecula, Murrieta, Palm Springs, and Rialto.
To learn more, visit www.dsaie.org.
Mt. San Jacinto College, Menifee campus is located at 28237 La Piedra Rd., Menifee.
Ashley Ludwig is a local writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.