Buddy Walk for kids with Down syndrome set for Nov. 2

When it comes to thinking about people with Down syndrome, Katie Hudson wants the world to take a cue from her 6-year-old daughter, Maddie.

"She always says, 'We’re all a little different, and that’s what makes us the same,'" Hudson said. "She gets it."

That’s why Maddie will be walking in honor of her brother, Logan -- and more than 400 others will make strides for inclusion and awareness for people with Down syndrome -- at the First Annual Baltimore Buddy Walk on Nov. 2 at Padonia Park Club in Cockeysville.

The walk, hosted by The Chesapeake Down Syndrome Parent Group (CDSPG), is part of the National Buddy Walk Program. Though the program has grown to more than 250 walks nationwide, this is Baltimore’s first.

"We have over 500 families in the Baltimore metro area that have children or family members with Down syndrome," said Hudson, event organizer and member of CDSPG. "The most important thing we emphasize is that people with Down syndrome are more like others than different."

Participating families and friends will form teams to support their loved one with Down syndrome. Hudson’s 8-year-old son, Logan, who has Down syndrome, will head a team of family and friends in his name. Together, they will walk as a visible sign of inclusion.

"We want to teach the kids that this is part of life and to accept everyone," Hudson said. "We are trying to make it a fun event with games and crafts."

Open to all ages and abilities, the walk will also feature a live band and DJ. In addition to games and children’s activities, there will be free food from sponsors including Grauls, Panera Bread and Zeke’s coffee.

Proceeds will directly benefit local programs and services through CDSPG. One such program is First Call, which provides information, guidance and support for new and expectant parents. Recently, the organization brought in a geneticist to talk about sibling relationships.

CDSPG Medical Outreach Chair Anna Fulbright, who has a daughter with Down syndrome, says she joined CDSPG so she can support families that also have children with Down syndrome.

"When my daughter was born, I was pleasantly surprised that there were a lot of other people with Down syndrome," said Fulbright. "We want to get the word out that our kids are great and just like everyone else."

Last year, the National Buddy Walk program raised more than $11.75 million to benefit national and local programs and services for people with Down syndrome and their families. Organizers hope the Baltimore event will raise $25,000.

"People are often most scared of things they don’t know about," Fulbright said. "Helping people get to know people with any difference really takes away the mystery and fear."

For more information, visit cdspg.org.

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