DANIEL ISLAND, SC (WCBD) – Hundreds of supporters from across the region came to Etiwan Park on Daniel Island Sunday afternoon for the Lowcountry Buddy Walk to raise funds for the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Association and the National Down Syndrome Society.
A Lowcountry community is walking for a cause.
“Today is our Lowcountry Buddy Walk,” said Erica Chiovarou, president of the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Association. “This is our biggest fundraiser of the year. It funds all the programs we do throughout the year.”
The Lowcountry Down Syndrome Association hosted the Sunday event with the help of local schools, businesses and families.
“Cheerleaders and bands and neighbors and friends and family,” said Chiovarou, “everyone supports and cheers on our members with Down syndrome.”
One of the schools supporting this effort is Bishop England High School.
Kristen Common (Options Program Director, Bishop England High School) :09
“They came together and supported the organization with a $1,000 donation,” said Kristen Common, Bishop of England educator.
The high school’s Band of Buddies Club pairs students with Down syndrome with student mentors so they can enjoy social activities together.
“It’s really cool to be a part of this club,” said Band of Buddies mentor Summer Del Valle. “It’s great fun. I’ve made so many great friends out of it, like Emma. It’s really cool because we can do more than club events. Emma cheers with me.”
Fundraising is important, but they say the club has allowed them to form a special bond with their peers.
“It’s really fun to be here with people who are so great,” said Band of Friends mentor Thomas Highfield. “They’re so happy all the time and just loving. It’s great to be able to spend time with them and get close to them. It makes you feel really good.”
Funds raised during Sunday’s one-mile walk will help support more than 200 families affected by Down syndrome throughout the Lowcountry.
“It goes to college scholarships for our members,” Chiovarou said, “it goes to new parent gifts for families who have a new diagnosis of a family member with Down syndrome, it goes to workshops and programs. We did a swim camp this summer, so all this money stays here and goes back to our families.”
Organizers say this year’s Lowcountry Buddy Walk was a success and they want to make next year’s event even bigger.