Walking hand in hand with a buddy

DOTHAN, Al. (WTVY) -- The National Peanut Festival Fairgrounds was packed with people Saturday, with people, making their way around the track, walking with a buddy.

"We just like walk and just spend time with our buddies", said Brandy Deese, who has Down Syndrome.

She was joined by hundreds of “buddies” who laced up their shoes to raise money and bring attention to people with Down syndrome as part of the 10th annual Buddy Walk. It’s a walk that was started by the National Down syndrome society in 1995. This as October is national Down syndrome awareness month. The Wiregrass walk started in 2008 with around 20 people, but has since grown in the 10 years it’s been held.

"How we raise awareness is by each team raising funds. Than throughout the year those funds go to our local down syndrome support group", said Alicia Sims, the Wiregrass Area Buddy Walk Coordinator.

The group, Sims is speaking of, is known as F.R.I.E.N.D., an acronym for families reaching, influencing, educating and networking for Down syndrome.

"The friends organization brings in national speakers at education summits about Down syndrome, they have attorney's that speak with individual family", said Sims.

Sims said the community really comes out and shows their support for people with Down syndrome throughout the Wiregrass area. Nearly 80 people with Down syndrome registered along with 1,800 people who came out just to support others. Support for entire families like Emily Clark whose child has Down syndrome.

"This is our 8th year so we're really excited to be you know continually doing it", said Clark, who’s a F.R.I.E.N.D board member.

If you’d like to help with the F.R.I.E.N.D organization you can go to their website: http://www.downsyndromefriends.org/