Buddy Walk held for National Down Syndrome month

Alma Aliaj

More than 60 teams participated in Buddy Walk on Oct. 1, the annual event benefitting the Trisomy 21 Center of the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. Buddy Walk was one of many walks held across America in honor of National Down Syndrome Month in October.

Under a crisp fall sky, families from the surrounding area and neighboring states took part in activities to raise money for affected children. Just a few years ago, the event was held in the parking lot in front of the track, but with a growing number of sponsors and participants, it was held on the Villanova football field this year.

Eight major sponsors including Foresters, Seneca, Media Partners, 10 NBC, Sprout, Parents Express, TD Bankworth and Auto Dealers Caring for Kids Foundation.

“Foresters is a not-for-profit company, and we use our funds to give back to charity,” Debbie Roessler, a volunteer and employee of Foresters, said. “I can’t think of a more worthwhile event than this Buddy Walk. The energy and support is tremendous.”

Roessler and other volunteers greeted and welcomed the teams, set up before the event and manned the many activity and information booths located around the track.

This year, the Buddy Walk hosted 66 teams, comprised of family members, friends and community members of children with Down Syndrome. Teams not only enjoyed the food, music and activities provided by the event, but also met many other families dealing with the same concerns and issues.

Chandra Myers, whose child has Down Syndrome, was the leader of Team K K’s Korner. She felt the event provided much-needed connection with other families.

“It’s really a great chance to meet others and to really share our experiences and lessons about Down Syndrome,” she said. “Plus, it gives everyone here a chance to give back to the community and also to the Trisomy 21 Foundation.”

The event was family-oriented, educational and fun. DJ Rockin Dave provided a constant stream of feel-good music, and participants enjoyed face painting, a silent auction that gave away prizes such as tickets to Regis and Kelly, numerous raffle toys and many Moon Bounces.

The women’s basketball team and the Villanova Wildcat made an appearance, and many Villanova students were seen donning volunteer shirts. For one mother, a proud member of Team Eric’s Fans, the event proved to be not only a great fundraising experience, but also a family reunion as well. Gina Latcheran and her son, Eric, have strong ties to Villanova University, and many family members are University alumni. Eric’s cousins, who are current Villanova students, gave their 19-year-old cousin a tour of the campus.

“It was an amazing time for Eric and the family,” Latcheran said. “Eric really got to see what it’s like to be a college student. He enjoyed the tour immensely, and it was wonderful to meet so many supportive people.”