UCP announces return of Buddy Walk event

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UTICA — Upstate Cerebral Palsy, in partnership with the National Down Syndrome Society, will host a community Buddy Walk on Sunday, Sept. 18, to honor and celebrate individuals with Down syndrome.

The Buddy Walk was established in 1995 by the National Down Syndrome Society to celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness, and the local event aims to raise awareness in the community as well as to raise funds for programs and services that benefit individuals with Down syndrome and their families. 

UCP offers a variety of programs, from residential to recreational to vocational support, for individuals with Down Syndrome and other developmental disabilities.

This year, UCP officials said, the Buddy Walk will be held at a new location, The Parkway Center, 220 Memorial Parkway. The walk will begin at 11 a.m. at the Parkway Center parking lot and loop around the John Mott’s Tennis Courts finishing in the Parkway Center gymnasium.

Donations and pledges will be accepted but are not required to walk. Registration will begin at 10 a.m. 

“We understand the importance of this event to our community and we are excited to bring this annual event back in 2022,” said Geno DeCondo, executive director of Upstate Cerebral Palsy.

“We will continue to provide innovative programs and to work with our communities to educate and advocate for people of all abilities,” DeCondo added. 

In addition to the walk itself, the event will also include entertainment, refreshments, and activities, including an interactive art project with the help of the Pieces of HeART program, a program that offers opportunities for those with disabilities to express themselves through art and to exhibit their works in various public showings.

This year, the community also has the opportunity to be part of the New York City Buddy Walk annual kick off video that will feature 500 beautiful faces of individuals with Down syndrome to be displayed on the Jumbotrons in the heart of Times Square. Organizers remind those interested in participating in the video that only one photo per individual with Down syndrome can be submitted to the contest using the following link: https://form.jotform.com/msagan/2022-times-square-video-submission. Submissions will close on July 10 at 11:59 p.m. Individuals will be notified by Aug. 1 if chosen. All 50 states will be represented in the photos that are selected, officials said.

The Utica Buddy Walk is one of only two currently scheduled, according to the national organization event website. The other upstate Buddy Walk on the schedule will be held in Elmira.

UCP is headquartered at 135 Business Park Drive. For additional information on the organization, its programs and services, see its website at https://www.upstatecp.org.

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