NILES, Ohio (WYTV) – For the 13th year, the Down Syndrome Association of the Valley is hosting its annual Buddy Walk, only this year will look a little different because of COVID-19.
The Buddy Walk is a yearly event that helps raise money for the Down Syndrome Association of the Valley and to celebrate those with Down Syndrome.
It normally looks like a big carnival, but this year things will be a little different.
This year’s event will be on Sunday. It will be a drive-thru parade in the Eastwood Field Parking.
Those attending are encouraged to decorate their cars for the event.
People are invited to drive through the parade route, which will feature a bunch people in attendance, including Santa, superheroes, a drum line, mascots and cheerleaders.
Those attending already picked up their buddy bag, which is filled with little goodies…including a buddy walk medal.
“They were moved to tears. It’s been a difficult year for all of us. For them to just receive that little extra gift, that little extra recognition just to let them know that someone out there is thinking of them and that we really care and it really means the world to our families to know that we’re all in this together,” said Michele Jones with the Down Syndrome Association of the Valley.
The event normally brings in about 2,500 people and raises more than $100,000.
Even though it’s a completely different concept this year, they’ve already raised nearly $75,000.
All of that money will stay here locally.
“We offer family grants for individuals. This year we distributed iPads or chrome books for use at home with the pandemic. We also offer assistance with medical expenses not covered by insurance. Really any activities, programs. We had to switch gears now from in person to online remote program,” said Jones.
There will be a parade route set up. Everyone is encouraged to practice social distancing and wear a mask, unless you’re in your car.
The event starts at noon Sunday and wraps up at 1 p.m. All are welcomed to join and you can register on their website.