October: Happy Down Syndrome Awareness Month!
A Look Back at the 2012 Buddy Walk in Rochester, NY

The 16th Annual Flower City Down Syndrome Network (FCDSN) Buddy Walk was held on Sunday, September 30th at Seneca Park in Rochester, New York.  The walk, for many years, was held as an awareness only event but has since become the biggest fundraiser for FCDSN, supporting its many programs for the local network of families, professionals, self-advocates, and friends who all share in the joys and challenges of a loved one with Down syndrome. FCDSN provides education, support, and opportunities to people who have Down syndrome, and their families.

In 2008, FCDSN began online fundraising and had 36 individual fundraisers raising approximately $20,000.  This year, with more than $30,000 raised online by over 55 individual fundraisers, over $6,000 in corporate sponsorship and more than $15,000 in additional outside donations (minus expenses) and of course, the hard work and dedication of many involved, they raised a net total of just over $45,000, more than doubling last year’s proceeds!

The walk was attended by well over 1,500 walkers (biggest number yet), with many individual families sporting their own colorful “team t-shirts” representing their family/friend with Down syndrome.

There were several local organizations present to share their information such as D.A.D.S. Roc Group (fathers of children with Down syndrome), The Rochester Ice Cats (local hockey organization for people with disabilities of all ages), Rochester Childfirst Network (leader in early education, child care, community outreach and national advocacy for children and their caregivers), Never Say Never Stables (an NFP equine assisted program that provides life-enriching, horse related experiences to children living with long term illness, challenges, and/or special needs), and Parent to Parent (not for profit organization established to support and connect families of individuals with special needs).

2012 Buddy Walk Corporate Sponsors included the generosity and ongoing support of:  Wegmans, Paychex, Emcor Services/Betlem Services Corp., Bright Start Pediatrics, The Last Man Standing Club, SPS Medical, ESL FCU, Tim’s Trim and Ability Vans, Isaac Heating, Hersheys, AccelCare, Renee Marie Studios, Tim Hortons (Patty Klenk), and Mickey Finn’s Restaurant.

The morning began with a downpour of rain (panic), but just in time for volunteers to begin, the skies cleared and they were able to set up signs, food, tables, bounce houses and so many fun memorabilia tables and displays!  And as all had hoped for – not a drop until just after clean up was done!  The morning was kicked off with coffee from Tim Hortons coffee truck (Patty Klenk, owner) – a huge hit!, followed by treats for all.  The over 1,500 walkers were welcomed followed by a very special presentation from Mickey Finn’s Restaurant – the presentation to FCDSN of a check in the amount of $11,848.00 – proceeds from their 2nd Annual Mickey Finn’s Golf Classic held in August benefiting FCDSN.  Owner, Tim Bryan, of Mickey Finn’s, his son Jack and golf committee chairs, Barb and Darryl Walczak, were also present.

FCDSN was also presented with a donation from the Webster Titan Football Team and FCDSN Member Brandon Ange in the amount of $1,000!  The Banner Family – the online fundraising leader who raised over $3,300 (with over $4,300 in total donations) – Ben’s Buddies and the Morris Family proudly took their team to the front of the line and lead the over 1,500 walkers around the pond.

After the walk, folks gathered together once again to begin FCDSN’s 21st Anniversary Celebration with photos and memorabilia tables giving folks a glimpse of our 21 years of supporting local families affected by Down syndrome.  The two women who were instrumental in creating the Flower City Down Syndrome Network 21 years ago – Peg Schoenfelder and Laura Khederian – both mothers to children with Down syndrome were present to speak of their role in creating FCDSN.  Also present to share a few words were past Presidents Terri Abrams and Sue Accapazetto.  These four women were thanked for their part in creating FCDSN and making it the organization it is today!

For more information on FCDSN and all that this organization offers, go to www.fcdsn.com.