Wakefield Observer, published Novermber 8th, 2014
Online Op-Ed available here.
On Oct.12, the Wakefield community welcomed us with open arms as a corps of walkers, volunteers, and community leaders celebrated National Down Syndrome Awareness Month at the 18th Annual Buddy Walk & Family Festival. Organized by the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress, the event was a huge success on every level. We had incredible participation with hundreds of people coming out to walk around beautiful Lake Quannapowitt to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome.
The awareness and funds raised at this annual event enable the MDSC to continue to support new and expectant families; educate health care professionals about Down syndrome and how to deliver a diagnosis; provide social and leadership development for teens and young adults with Down syndrome; equip educators with best practices and resources; and advocate for legislation affecting people with Down syndrome on the local and national level.
Wakefield has been the home of the Buddy Walk for the past 18 years and we can’t imagine a better community to be a part of during National Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Whether you bring your families to our walk, make a personal contribution, and/or display posters on your fences with inspiring messages along the walk route like “Every Buddy is Some Buddy”, you all make a difference. You have become such an integral part of making this event the success it is today and we’re very grateful!
There are so many Wakefield people, groups, and businesses that help make this day happen including the Board of Selectman, DPW Director Richard Stinson, Wakefield Police Department, Wakefield Auxiliary Fire Department and Fire Chief Mike Sullivan, David Portman and Action Ambulance, Wakefield Observer, Wakefield Daily Item, The T-Stop’s Rod Faulkner, Annie a.k.a “The Slush Lady”, Comverse, Jonah Faigel of Jonah’s Twisters, Barbara Duncan, Blanchard Awning, Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Dept, Wakefield High School Girls Swim Team and Best Buddies, and Boy Scout Troop 701.
We want to especially thank John Kennedy of Honey Dew Donuts for supporting our efforts. Three Wakefield Honey Dew Donut locations donated 10 percent of their proceeds to the MDSC on the day of the walk. We also want to thank the Wakefield Chamber of Commerce, which offered our walkers “Business Buddy Coupons” on walk day good for select Wakefield business.
Lastly, special thanks to Marie Rej and her family for their unwavering energy, commitment, and support over all these years.
Special recognition, as well, to Rep. Tom Sannicandro, Sen. Jamie Eldridge, and Rep. Sean Garballey for their support of the MDSC and our ongoing efforts to improve the lives of all individuals with Down syndrome.
On behalf of our entire organization, thank you believing in our work. We’re so appreciative for all that you’ve done and continue to do to make a difference in the lives of people with Down syndrome and their families.
Maureen Gallagher, Executive Director, Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress