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Buddy Walk draws 2,000 people; aims to promote acceptance of people with Down Syndrome
BEAUMONT - by Lauren Huet
The Arc of Greater Beaumont held its second annual Buddy Walk this morning. Organizers say more than 2,000 people walked in Downtown Beaumont on Saturday to promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with Down Syndrome.
"My son, Matthew, is one of the many people we're honoring here today. And we're hoping that by having this walk, we can help people better appreciate that people with disabilities have a lot to offer the community," said Cindy Bloodsworth.
"I'm here supporting my son, Calin, he's five years old," said Tracy Nelms. "We did not know he had Down Syndrome until he was born, so we are super excited for the second annual Buddy Walk."
Walk teams dressed up in different colored t-shirts, wore things like boas, and carried decorated signs with a picture of their loved one's face.
"This is Matt's Maniacs, this is his walk team," said Cindy Bloodsworth. "We have 52 teams in this walk today. Every team has an honored walker who has Down Syndrome, and with them come their friends, their family, their loved ones, who are with them to support them today."
This year's Buddy Walk raised over $78,000 for Down Syndrome awareness and advocacy programs.
"The reason why we're here for this event," said Matt Bloodsworth, Cindy Bloodsworth's son, "we have more money to raise."
Last year's Buddy Walk funded the Arc of Greater Beaumont's "basket program."
"We are able to go into area hospitals and pediatrician offices and give baskets to family members who have just had a child diagnosed with Down Syndrome," said Teri Hawthorne, the director of programs for Arc Beaumont. "This gives them information, places to call, and it's also a lifeline that they can call that's full of support and can guide them."
The Arc of Greater Beaumont has support groups for parents of children with Down Syndrome.
"It's very helpful because, my son is like every other child, but sometimes a mother just needs another mother to talk to, and it's really nice to have the support system that we have," said Nelms.
Although the walk raises money, it's main goal is to promote acceptance of people with Down Syndrome.
"Because it makes the people who do have Down Syndrome, it makes them feel special," said Grace Hendon.
"The main purpose of this is to just spread the joy, spread the word that we love our loved ones with Down Syndrome, and they make our lives better, and we are blessed for knowing them," said Hawthorne.
"Those of us who have family members who have Down Syndrome are blown away to see this awesome show of love and support from the community, so we are very excited and happy to be here," said Cindy Bloodsworth.