This is the speech my eldest daughter gave about her sister at her school:
Have you heard of Down syndrome? I learned about Down syndrome nine months ago, when my parents told my sister and me about our two-year-old baby sister, Lacey. When she was born my parents never told us that she had Down syndrome. I knew she had to go to the doctor and have therapy a lot, but I just thought something was wrong with her heart. When my parents sat my sister and me down to explain it to us, they told us that she had Down syndrome, which meant she had an extra chromosome, and that she may be slow to learn things like walking, talking, and reading. The easiest way to explain Down syndrome is to say my sister was born with 47 chromosomes instead of 46 like me. She has 3 copies of her 21st chromosome. I only have 2.
The Buddy Walk® is a group that is working to bring awareness about Down syndrome to the public. The Buddy Walk® was started in 1995 by the National Down Syndrome Society to raise awareness and acceptance for people with Down syndrome. The Buddy Walk® is organized by volunteers. These volunteers get people involved to walk, raise money, and raise awareness about Down syndrome. These people do not get paid any money to do this. The payment they get is the satisfaction of seeing all the smiling faces from the children and adults during the event. My mom’s friend, Kelli is the President of the Miami Valley Down Syndrome Association. She said they raised over $80,000 dollars last year for their Buddy Walk in Dayton, OH. The money will go to help fund programs like summer camp, help parents pay for therapies, and this year they will be buying iPads for some families. They also give 7% of the money they earned to the National Down Syndrome Society and this money is used for national advocacy efforts.
Nationally, the Buddy Walk® raised over $11 million dollars last year to help provide programs and services. Back when the Buddy Walk® first started they only had 17 Walks throughout the whole United States, but last year they had over 250, and even had their first Walk in the country of Japan. So, what has the Buddy Walk done to change America? Last year alone, there were almost 300,000 people who participated in a Buddy Walk® to raise money for Down syndrome. But more importantly, these volunteers helped raise awareness and educate millions upon millions of others about Down syndrome.
So, why is this awareness about Down syndrome so important you ask? As my mom says, “my sister is part of the lucky few born with Down syndrome.” Yes, I just said my sister is lucky to be born with Down syndrome… You see, many parents when told their baby will be born with Down syndrome, will choose to have an abortion. Which means that the parents will end their baby’s life before it is even born. I can’t imagine my sister not getting a chance to live. And I can’t imagine my life without my sister. She is the best sister in the world and I love her so much.
One of my biggest fears for my sister is that someone will make fun of her as she gets bigger, and the Buddy Walk® is doing a great job in promoting awareness so that one day my sister will be accepted by everyone, and no one will call her mean names and make fun of her. I also hope that one day, with the help of the Buddy Walk® that the number of parents who are going to choose to end their baby’s life will go down to zero. Those babies deserve to be lucky too, just like my sister.