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Buddy Walk

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Saturday, October 25th, 2008

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal abnormality and occurs when an individual has an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. People with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions, such as congenital heart defects, respiratory problems and hearing loss. They also experience mild to moderate cognitive delays. Despite the disability, they can live full, happy lives, from going to school to working.

The National Down Syndrome Society was formed in 1979. Its purpose is to assure that all people with Down syndrome become full, independent participants in society. The organization's main objectives are to develop educational materials, to research the latest advances in Down syndrome and to advocate public policy concerning people with Down syndrome.

In 1995 the society created a walk-a-thon called Buddy Walk with three goals. The first is to promote assimilation of people with Down syndrome. The second objective is to be a fund-raiser to provide money for research, education and advocacy. The third goal is to make a difference for people with Down syndrome in local and national politics.

When first started in 1995, there were only 17 walk-a-thons across the nation. By 2006, the number of walks grew to 260. Since the beginning, more than 1.75 million people have participated in the program, raising $6.5 million to benefit education and research This year it is expected at least 250,000 people will participate in a Buddy Walk.

The Down Syndrome Resource Group of Western Massachusetts is hosting its own Buddy Walk on Oct. 25 at Stanley Park in Westfield. Registration begins at 10 a.m., with the walk-a-thon beginning at 11 a.m. After the walk, lunch will be served at noon. For more information, call either (800) 337-7791 or (413) 586-8196



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