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2004 Buddy Walk planned for Oct. 23

By Staff
Staff Reports, Hartselle Enquirer
The 2004 North Alabama Buddy Walk will be held Saturday, Oct. 23 in Huntsville's Big Spring Park. The second annual event is a celebration of life and a fun way to raise awareness about Down syndrome.
Free registration is at 11 a.m. and the walk, one loop around Big Spring, will begin at noon. The starting point will be the lit torch and as walkers cross the finish line, volunteers will be handing out special Buddy Walk buckets full of free goodies.
After the walk, relax and have fun in the park with games, give-aways, music, live entertainment, local information and more.
All fun activities, noon-3 p.m., will celebrate inclusion and acceptance of people with Down syndrome and other special needs.
The 2003 North Alabama Buddy Walk grand marshal was Calista Mitchell, daughter of Michael and Colette Mitchell of Hartselle.
This year's event will promote rocking chair sponsorship to place rocking chairs in local hospitals, including Decatur General Hospital, in honor or memory of loved ones for parents to comfort sick children. Sponsorship of one rocking chair is $150 and includes an engraved plate to be permanently placed on the rocking chair.
Additional funds raised through the Buddy Walk enable the North Alabama Bringing Up Down Syndrome (B.U.D.S.) group to provide New Parent Packets to all families in the area who have children born with Down syndrome before they leave the hospital. Packets contain books and other resources for families to use as reference from birth to adulthood regarding their family member's specific needs at every stage.
Tools are also purchased to further aid local schools, libraries, doctors' offices, and other environments.
B.U.D.S. also hopes to launch the New Beginnings program in all local hospitals to educate professionals about how to approach and help a brand new family of a child with Down syndrome in a more personal and compassionate manner. All donations are tax-deductible.
The Buddy Walk was developed by the National Down Syndrome Society in 1995 to promote acceptance and awareness of people with Down syndrome. People with Down syndrome are encouraged to invite "Buddies," everyone from friends and family to teachers and legislators, to join them at the event. Every participant helps promote the importance of understanding, acceptance and awareness.
John C. McGinley of the NBC sitcom "Scrubs" is the 2004 National Buddy Walk spokesman. He is also the dad of Max, a great kid who happens to have Down syndrome.
Whether you have Down syndrome, know someone who does, or just want to show your support, come join the Buddy Walk. Anyone can be a Buddy.
For more information, rocking chair sponsorship or registration information, call Tamyra Yarbrough at 256-852-5445 or email tamyrandall@msn.com.

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