Two years and a little bit ago, two families in Ashe County welcomed home new babies.
They were greeted excitedly by siblings, grandparents, friends and family. Not an unusual story, right? Except in this case, both of the babies were born with an extra chromosome, which causes a genetic condition called Down syndrome.
This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes and a single deep crease across the center of the palm - although each person with Down syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees, or not at all.
Not long after Cohen Lewis and Addie Lewis were born and brought home, their families attended the Piedmont Buddy Walk in Winston-Salem. At Buddy Walks all over the world, individuals with Down syndrome are celebrated, connections between families are made and resources are shared. Seeing the value of these connections, the two Lewis families decided to spearhead the planning of a Buddy Walk of the High Country.
Teaming up with Ashe Services for Aging, where Cohen’s aunt, Patricia Calloway, is the executive director, a hugely successful Buddy Walk was held last September. Over $12,000 was raised for advocacy and support services. Individual grants were made to a number of local families for services and equipment to provide for the families’ needs.
It is now time for the second annual Buddy Walk of the High Country. It will be held at Ashe County High School from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 13. Teams are being formed for local individuals who have Down syndrome and people can register on specific teams or as solo walkers.
There will be music, food, a mile long walk, bounce houses, a photo booth by SNAP by Ang, a Strider No-Pedal Balance bike Adventure Zone course, face painting, raffle items and a whole lot more. Many community businesses have come forward as sponsors. Buddy Sponsors include Boondocks, Mt. Jefferson Family Medicine, Watauga County Farm Bureau, Caleb’s Heart in honor of Caleb Stopper and Mountain Town Dental.
To register go to www.buddywalkofthehighcountry.com, check out the Facebook page or follow us on twitter @BWHighCountry. For more information call Ashe Services for Aging at 336-246-2461.
Lynn Robinson is an early intervention/family support specialist Ashe Services for Aging.