These special people deserve your help

Published 12:08 am Wednesday, September 5, 2007

By Staff
My first experience with someone who was "different" came when I was quite young.
My mother's boss would bring over his daughter to play with me. I had a hard time understanding her. She couldn't pronounce her words correctly. When she played it was not the same as with my other friends.
She had Down Syndrome. I didn't know what that meant, I only knew my mother was teaching me a value lesson which would stay with me the rest of my life.
Though this little girl might be difficult to understand and she didn't comprehend the word share, as well as I might, she still enjoyed dolls and running in the yard and laughing.
My mom worked at a shelter for "retarded" people. That was the correct term we used back in the 1950s and '60s.
Now such children are called disabled or developmentally challenged.
To me she was just a little girl. The other people at the shelter might have been slower, but they were still people to be treated equally.
Not so though to many other people who would look and stare and say bad things.
Through the years programs have been set up and many children have been mainstreamed into regular schools.
Still none of this helps if youngsters don't learn the basics from their parents that everyone is created equal and deserves tolerance.
Later, when I was seriously dating my future husband I met his 3-year-old sister, who also had Down Syndrome. Lynn was so cute with bright rosie cheeks and an inquisitive nature.
I still have a hard time understanding her and she can have tantrums, but she has brought so much joy into the family's life.
Eventually another sister-in-law also had a daughter with Down's. So many years later, she goes to a regular school, is beautiful and also a joy.
So it was with this background I read this week about a local "Buddy Walk" to promote awareness and help to improve the lives of all people with Down syndrome.
On Oct. 6, the Down Syndrome Family Support and Advocacy Group will have its sixth annual Michiana Buddy Walk at the Stepan Center, at the University of Notre Dame.
Local children and adults with Down syndrome and their buddies and many other supporters will participate in the Michiana Buddy Walk.
Registration time is from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. with the walk starting at 11 a.m..
Everyone with a $50 donation will get a free T-shirt (while supplies last). This year's event will have a lot of fun, food, entertainment, information booths, door prizes, a silent auction and more.
By encouraging the acceptance of people with Down syndrome, the Down Syndrome Family Support Group aims to include these individuals in community activities, education and employment as well as scholarships and grants.
The Michiana Buddy Walk is affiliated with the National Down Syndrome Society and is one of more than 125 walks held in the cities across the country.
Call the Down Syndrome Family Support and Advocacy Group today at (574) 235-3758 or go to for more information.
Not everyone has a personal knowledge of how loving and special these people can be. That's too bad.