On Sunday, October 9, in the midst of National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, the Flanagan family of Watertown will join over 3,500 family members, friends and people with Down syndrome at Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield to celebrate, promote acceptance and inclusion, and look to a bright future for the Down syndrome community in Massachusetts and beyond, the MDSC announced.
This year, the Buddy Walk & Family Festival celebrates its 20th year. It has grown from a gathering of a handful of families to what is now the largest gathering of people with Down syndrome and their loved ones in New England and among the largest in the nation.
Helping us celebrate this occasion, the MDSC welcomes special guest John Tucker (aka “JT”) from the emmy-winning series Born This Way. JT will meet and greet fans and sign photos before the walk and will kick off a dance “after party” following the walk around beautiful Lake Quannapowitt. Also providing entertainment will be PBS’ popular singer-songwriter Steve Songs. FOX25 News Anchor Heather Hegedus will emcee. The event also includes complimentary snacks and refreshments, arts and crafts, balloon artists, face painting, and much more family-fun activities!
The MDSC has been a huge supporter of the Flanagan family. We have lived in Watertown for 13 years and have four children, Aidan, Ciaran, Moya and Grace. The two boys attend WMS and the girls are at the Lowell. Grace was born with Down syndrome in 2009, and prior to her birth we knew an awful lot about her! Thanks to the MDSC we were provided with relevant and up-to-date information about Down syndrome and they connected us with other families at a time when we were very concerned and quite honestly scared. From that time, the MDSC has continued to be an integral part of our lives, we have been fortunate to attend their annual educator’s conference for the past two years with members of Grace’s school team from the Lowell, it has guided us with researched based information of how children with Down syndrome learn.
Our family has walked in the Annual Buddy Walk since Grace was a baby but this is the first year we have fundraised on their behalf. The theme of the walk “Believe” resonates with our family as we believe that Grace will achieve much with her life and become an active member of her community in Watertown and beyond. Learning and respecting those around us with Down syndrome and the gifts they bring to the world begins one person, one family, one village at a time. We are lucky to live in a town like Watertown where I can honestly say that we have gotten tremendous support and we are excited to walk as Team Grace in honor of our feisty girl! We are also excited to announce, Chop Chop Magazine is partnering with us to encourage donations!
We have 5 Chop Chop cookbooks to raffle off to anyone who donates or walks with our team!
The centerpiece of the day is the celebratory three-mile walk around the picturesque lake that is expected to raise about $400,000 to directly support vital MDSC programs and services, including Parents First Call, Advocates in Motion (AIM), Self Advocate Advisory Council, Educator’s Forum, Annual Conference, and Legislative Advocacy efforts, all of which help the MDSC ensure individuals with Down syndrome are valued, included, and given opportunities to pursue fulfilling lives in the community.
The public is invited to join the festivities on Oct. 9 or to support The Flanagan Family/Team Grace by making a donation, registering to walk, or volunteering. Supporters can visit www.mdsc.org/buddywalk or call 781-221- 0024 for more information.
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