The Seventh Annual Clinton Down Syndrome Walk was held Sept. 8 at the Clinton High School Arena. The Clinton Down Syndrome Walk, formerly known as the Buddy Walk, was created by Randi Newland and a friend to bring awareness to Down Syndrome. This year’s slogan was “New Name Same Tradition!”
The event began as an awareness raising.
“My friend and I started this fundraiser after we both had our children with Down Syndrome. I met her after I had Weston. We wanted to do everything we could in our communities to raise awareness of Down Syndrome. We want our kids and others with Down Syndrome to be accepted and loved. We wanted to encourage others to get to know individuals with Down Syndrome so they could see for themselves that they are more alike than different. The friend who started it with me moved to Michigan.... so I quickly grabbed Darla McJunkins and she has helped me tremendously the last few years,” Newland said.
Event goals included fund raising, as well as awareness.
“Our main goal is to raise awareness and help people understand what Down Syndrome is and what causes it. Also we raise the funds and donate to other non-profit organizations that help others with disabilities such as Arkansas Down Syndrome Association, National Down Syndrome Association, Van Buren County Special School, Ronald McDonald House, Arkansas Special Olympics, Clinton Public School Special Education Program, etc,” Newland said.
The name change came after consideration.
“Our name has always been Clinton Buddy Walk. This year we created our own 501c3 status and renamed the walk Clinton Down Syndrome Walk,” Newland said.
“We just want to say thank you to the community for its outpouring support over the last seven years. When I started this walk I will be honest I was scared to death. I knew it would be a lot of work and I wasn't sure how the community would respond. It has been more than I could have ever imagined. I feel like our community and our students do a great job helping out and supporting this cause, but most importantly they love and understand our children and that means more than anything!” Newland added.