Happy 20th Anniversary to the National Buddy Walk® Program!  This program was established in 1995 to encourage acceptance of people with Down’s syndrome. This awareness event has grown from 17 walks in 1995 to more than 250 this year.

Overlooking the line of walkers waiting for a free hamburger lunch

On Saturday, October 3rd, 2015, Rapid Relief Team personnel gathered at Stinson Park at Aksarben Village in Omaha to assist the Down’s Syndrome Alliance of the Midlands with their annual Buddy Walk.

One of the RRT volunteers playing soccer with some of the participants RRT Volunteers escorting the walkers safety across the road

The walk began at 11:30am with over 3,000 supporters, including many that have Down’s Syndrome along with their families. The RRT was kept busy from 8am to 3pm handing out water, soda, coffee, and snacks from two tents, serving a hamburger lunch, directing traffic, assisting with the activities, transporting participators to their vehicles at the end of the event, and clean-up. Two RRT members snapped organized team photos throughout the morning before the walk began. Over 3,000 bottles of water, and many cans of soda were donated to the event by RRT, as well as coffee which was much appreciated by the walkers on the chilly morning. Several walkers showed surprise at the fact the drinks and the snacks were free for taking!

Volunteers serving lunch to the walkers

Down syndrome is a genetic condition that occurs in one in every 691 births. More than 400,000 people in the United States have Down’s syndrome. The National Buddy Walk® Program in Omaha grossed over $146,000, which was 130% of their goal! Approximately 93% of the funds go toward an organization that supports over 350 families in the Omaha Metro. 7% of the funds raised support the National Down Syndrome Society.

One of the two tents along the route, offering cold water bottles and refreshments to the walkers

The funds from this event support the Down Syndrome Education Series, which is the scholarship program for self-advocates, medical outreach materials, education materials for 19 local school districts, events that foster family connections and professional staff to ensure the stability and growth of the Down Syndrome Alliance of the Midlands. Through education, advocacy and support, the Down Syndrome Alliance of the Midlands has connected with the lives of thousands of people and touched the hearts of many more.

Transporting participators to their vehicles at the end of the event

It was mentioned by the organizers that “everyone volunteered for everything” and it was “beyond what we expected”!  Rapid Relief Team was requested to come back to the next annual event in October 2016, which will be Omaha’s 15th annual Buddy Walk!


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