Bangor Buddy Walk planned to promote acceptance and inclusion of Down syndrome

BANGOR, Maine (WABI) – October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month. In honor of the occasion, a group of local moms are hosting a Buddy Walk this weekend.

The National Buddy Walk Program was started in the 1990s with the goal of promoting acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome.

“When we found out we had Brielle they told us we had a 5% chance of her coming out with Down syndrome, but they ruled her out,” said Shelley Sargent, Brielle’s mother. “Once we got it, surprise! We have a beautiful little girl with Down’s syndrome.

Getting her daughter’s diagnosis was a moving experience for Sargent.

“I know when I heard the news you were a little sad. You’re heartbroken and you don’t even know who to turn to or where to look, ”Sargent said. “It helps to talk to other parents, other moms to know that we are not alone and that what we are facing is going well. “

Sargent is one of half a dozen mothers in eastern Maine who logged in through Facebook. They call themselves T21 Moms, after Down’s syndrome, another name for Down syndrome.

“One of the mothers also has a child who was in the NICU at the same time as Francesca,” said Elise DelMonaco, Francesca’s mother. “We connected that way and she reached out one day and said, ‘Would you be interested in getting together with other moms who have kids with Down syndrome and maybe we can, you know, connect us and help each other and navigate this journey? ‘ And from there it’s kind of exploded, in a good way.

A few months ago, they started meeting for play dates and other face-to-face meetings. They celebrate each other’s victories, while supporting each other and offering guidance in difficult times.

“This group, we have a few different challenges and I think sometimes it’s just to know that you’re still on the right track and that it’s okay. Everything will be fine no matter what you come across, ”said DelMonaco. “You can reach out and have a network there.”

In order to reach even more families, they organize a Buddy Walk in Bangor. They hope this will help provide information and a support system that was not immediately available to them.

It is scheduled for Saturday October 9 at 11:00 am at the Bangor Waterfront.

“We have activities planned for the start of the walk, so it’s not just a walk,” said Erin Hatch, Maddox’s mom. “There are therapists arriving, sign language interpreters who have got their hands on it. We have a lot of people who have come together to support us.

“Come on! Come and join us. Support us. See them, meet them and you won’t regret it,” Sargent said.

The route is what they call “a little extra 5K”. It’s a 3.21 mile loop that circles the community – and their kids.

“My boy brings so much joy to our family every day, and we are so grateful to him,” Hatch said. “We would never swap his extra chromosome.”

“Heads up. We’ve got you. We’re here to support you, and they are wonderful children with a great future ahead of them,” Sargent said.

Hatch says they already have 130 people registered for the event, which will also include pumpkin painting and lunch. This participation would far exceed their expectations.

For more information or to register, visit their website: https://runsignup.com/Race/ME/Bangor/BangorBuddyWalk?fbclid=IwAR1IenUCev915epBb51CtDmhfwKD9z_gz1bW-xaG2mEI3nJ0YONL9a7HH3nJ0YONL9a7H.

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