SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — On Sunday, community members and advocates celebrated the 27th Annual Buddy Walk at Schenectady Central Park to benefit the Down Syndrome Aim High Resource Center at the Center for Disability Services. The event has been promoting inclusion and awareness of those with Down Syndrome, but Anne Schnieder Costigan, Spokesperson for the organization, said this year will include a very special dedication.
“This walk is dedicated to the memory of Chris Miller,” she said. “Chris Miller was a tremendous self-advocate. He also was a real Buddy Walk enthusiast, and he just embodied the spirit of this Buddy Walk. So we’re all going to be walking for him today and for all of the people with Down Syndrome that we support.”
Kevin Cordella is a part of the United Ways Emerging Leader Program, and he said that he was happy to volunteer for the day with this team.
“Great organization, great day, there’s a lot to do here. Pumpkins, arts, crafts, ice cream, everything, so we’re looking forward to seeing the families come out today,” Cordella said.
Organizers were excited the event was able to raise enough funds and even exceed their $50,000 goal. However, the organization says there is always a need to help fund the services provided, including a new baby program where they work with expectant and new parents of children born with Down Syndrome.
“So we can introduce our services to them as well as give them the resources that they may need,” Anne Schnieder Costigan said.
For parents like Janine Lampo, it’s also about connecting with other families.
“Community, sense of love, appreciation, education, inclusion, all of those types of things are so important to our community and to our children,” Lampo said.
The Moorhead family has been involved with the organization for 15 years with their daughter, who is now a sophomore in high school.
“It’s been challenging, but we’ve been so blessed to be connected to this organization early on,” Michelle Moorhead said. “[Our daughter has] made friends here, I’ve made friends here, and after all of these years, we’re so connected, and we keep coming back.”
And Aidan Febus was volunteering and walking for his sister.
“Oh, this is awesome! I’m gonna try to do the walk,” he said. “Unfortunately, my sister can’t be here because she doesn’t like getting up early.”
But for those who did get up early and still experienced a fun day… for a great cause.