ALBANY — The cars were nice, but there’s nothing like putting on the walking shoes.
That’s the spirit from officials at the Center for Disability Services, who are holding the 26th annual Capital Region Buddy Walk from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday at Schenectady’s Central Park.
The 1-mile walk around the pond will benefit the Down Syndrome Aim High Resource Center at the Center for Disability Services.
The past two years, the Center was able to hold car parades as a substitute fundraiser.
“The car parades were very important,” said Anne Schneider Costigan, the senior vice president for communications and development at the Center for Disability Services. “They kept people with Down Syndrome at the top of the mind, and they also provided financial support we needed.”
Keeping people with Down Syndrome in mind is important, Costigan said, when one considers what the Aim High Resource Center has done just in the past year. It provided parent education, via individual consultation, to 40 families. It also provided 25 expectant/new parents packets at area hospitals and delivered 10 Welcome Baby baskets.
The day will start with entertainment, arts and crafts, children’s activities, information booths and food from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., including pumpkin decorating, a sensory table, therapy dogs and pigs, and ice cream. At 11:30, dignitaries and families of people with Down Syndrome will give remarks. The walk will start at noon and last until about 12:30 p.m. There is no charge to walk, and the event is open to people of all ages and abilities. Then the fun activities continue until 2. p.m.
There are multiple ways the Center for Disability Services raises funds from the event. One is by sponsorships, which Costigan said had reached a record high this year. Also, as teams of walkers are formed, their members raise funds among friends and supporters. T-shirts also will be sold, there will be an online silent auction in the few days surrounding the walk, and there will be a day-of raffle. Also, donations at any time can be made by visiting cfdsny.org.
As of Friday afternoon, $41,870 had been raised, or 83 percent of the Center’s $50,000 goal.
“The people are very excited to be back in person and to be in Central Park again and to really celebrate the achievements of those with Down Syndrome,” Costigan said.
As an example of those achievements, the Resource Center assisted with 90 modified curricular units to support inclusion of students with Down Syndrome in general education classes. It also held enrichment and empowerment seminars for self-advocates, including resume writing to six individuals, and held two sessions for self advocacy with 10 to 12 participants per session.