DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — Hundreds of people gathered at the National Peanut Festival Fairgrounds for an annual event — Buddy Walk.
“The Buddy Walk is the Down Syndrome fundraiser. We have a local support group called FRIENDS. The Buddy Walk is the only fundraiser for Down Syndrome,” Wiregrass Buddy Walk Event Coordinator Alicia Sims said.
At the opening ceremony before the two-lap walk, close to 100 buddies had their name called, received medals, and were greeted by hometown heroes and walk leaders Brandi Deese and Kasey Cooper as well as first responders.
Not only did the Buddy Walk make the kids feel good on a day like this, but it also warmed the hearts of their parents especially this one father.
“It actually feels good and to see the community come out like this and see the support. A lot of times as a parent and you have a child with a disability, you feel alone,” Demetrius Kelly said. “Coming out to certain events like this shows the unity that there is a support group, kids, and parents going through the same thing like that. It feels good, unity in the community is what I call it.”
Speaking of unity, event coordinator Alicia Sims says it’s important for people to come together and engage with an event like Buddy Walk.
“At some point in their life, there child, grandchild, or they themselves will come in contact with someone with Down Syndrome. At church, school, grocery store,” Sims said. “No matter where you go, you may encounter somebody with down syndrome and let me tell you they are just as able as you and I are.”
The goal set for the fundraiser this year was $60,000. As of now, the event has brought in $69,000.