Friday, October 7 2022

STATE COLLEGE – October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month and the regional inclusion and advocacy group kicks off the month with its biggest event of the year – the Buddy Walk.

Center Region Down Syndrome Society (CRDSS) is a dynamic, hands-on organization that provides people with Down syndrome and their families with the tools, resources, and support to participate in, contribute to, and achieve personal health and growth.

Their flagship event, the Buddy Walk, has traditionally brought the wider community together to celebrate people with Down syndrome, as well as raise funds to keep their work running year-round. This year, the group is excited to meet again at State College’s Medlar Field for the 16th annual event on October 8, which is expecting a near-record attendance.

“Our community gathers incredible strength by being together, so having this ability after two years of holding the Buddy Walk virtually is fantastic,” said Becky Brigman, CRDSS board member. “These are the people we walk for, like my son Elwood. This will be the first in-person buddy walk for my family and we’re really looking forward to everything from the celebration walk itself, to entertainment, lunch, games, a photo booth, face painting and more. But best of all will be the smiles, the hugs, and our community sharing our common goal of helping people with Down syndrome live life to the fullest.

“Those who participate in our work will tell you all, it’s rewarding”, added Lauren Smith, Executive Director. “The Buddy Walk is a fun day for sure, but it’s also a very important day. Bringing our families together from across Pennsylvania is an amazing experience. We gain tremendous momentum when we are together, sharing our common bond, beliefs and mission. Everyone is invited to join us on the next Buddy Walk to be part of this camaraderie. Registration is open and people are busy building teams and donating. It’s a special time of the year!

The organization is active year-round and offers a variety of programs, including educational workshops, counseling and support for new families, special events for members, and a performing arts program – the For Good. Troupe, which performs for the public on a seasonal basis. The CRDSS recently partnered with the YMCA of Center County to launch the Community Connections Wellness Program, which focuses on the social, emotional, physical, and educational well-being of people with disabilities. A flagship program, the Enrichment Fund, specifically funds activities that keep people with Down syndrome physically active and socially engaged. Through a mini-grant program, the fund helps families buy adapted bikes or pay for therapeutic riding and swimming lessons.

Thanks to advances in medical technology, people with Down syndrome are living longer than ever. In 1910, children with Down syndrome were expected to survive to the age of nine. With the discovery of antibiotics, the average age of survival rose to 19 or 20 years. Today, with recent advances in clinical treatments, particularly corrective heart surgeries, up to 80% of adults with Down syndrome reach the age of 60 and many are living even longer. . More Americans are interacting with people with Down syndrome, increasing the need for widespread public education and acceptance.

“We are proud to serve the Central Pennsylvania region,” Smith continued. “CRDSS is one of many organizations across the United States that offers a range of programs to serve the Down Syndrome community. Personal support is invaluable to families with Down syndrome – our founders recognized this 16 years ago when they saw the need for this organization and strategically built support programs through their willpower. unwavering volunteerism. Our current leadership is dedicated to honoring our early pioneers and taking the CRDSS to the next level. We take our role very seriously. »

2022 Buddy Walk sponsors include: University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer Biomarker Consortium-Down Syndrome, Jersey Shore State Bank, Lotsa Laffs, Dr. Marla Moon & Heimer, Fiore, Turco Eye Care, RE/MAX Center Realty, Restek, Spikes, Steinbacher, Goodall & Yurchak, and Truist Bank.

To learn more about CRDSS and support the Buddy Walk 2022, visit

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