A special event for a special kid
A 5-year-old Marion boy will be one of 40 children, teens, and adults with Down Syndrome — out of 173 total participants — at a “buddy walk” Oct. 1 at Clyde.
Beckett Meyerhoff, son of Matt and Jenna Meyerhoff, and brother to Emersyn, Harper, and Hudson Meyerhoff, will participate in the North Central Kansas Down Syndrome Society’s event.
“This will be our third year,” Jenna Meyerhoff said. “The first year we went as servers.”
The second year the family took part in the walk. Participants have tents decorated in a chosen theme.
“It felt very personal, and we loved it,” Jenna said. “We had a tent with what Beckett liked to do, which was knocking down blocks. This year our tent will have a musical theme.”
In Beckett’s tent, kids will be playing instruments.
“I went on Amazon and got a bunch of blow-up musical instruments,” she said.
She also bought kazoos for kids to play.
“I always have cute little signs that talk about inclusion,” she said. “To complete our band, you have to include everybody.”
The walk, at the Clyde school grounds, is about one mile long, North Central Kansas Down Syndrome Society treasurer Sheila Thoman said.
Besides a walk, participants will have bounce houses, a DJ, a photo booth, raffles, and carnival games to enjoy.
This year’s oldest participant is older than 60, and the youngest is an infant born in April.
Although participants are asked to sign up for the sake of planning, no one is turned away for not having signed up in advance, Thoman said.
“We don’t want anybody to think, ‘Oh, I can’t go because I didn’t sign up,’” she said.
The event is the society’s largest fundraiser, but it’s also an important way for families with Down Syndrome children to connect and share experiences and advice, Thoman said.
Money raised by the buddy walk helps pay for other events so people can get together and get to know each other, she said.
“The importance is not just about educating people,” Jenna said.
Beckett rides school buses and has a paraeducator with him at school.
“He loves to run and jump and play just like his siblings,” she said.
She wants people to know that children with Down Syndrome are not as different as they are the same as everyone else.
Down Syndrome is the most common chromosomal abnormality in the population, caused by a person having three, instead of two, copies of the 21st chromosome. One in 800 to 1,000 children is born with Down Syndrome.
Characteristics associated with Down Syndrome include low muscle tone, a flat facial profile, and increased risk of some related medical conditions.
It affects a person’s physical and cognitive development. People with Down Syndrome will have some degree of developmental disability.
Buddy walk is the premier advocacy event for Down Syndrome in the United States and is the world’s most widely recognized public awareness program for the Down Syndrome community.
Last modified Sept. 21, 2023