Rocketing beyond limits
By Press Times staff
GREEN BAY – The Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin-Green Bay hosted its annual Down Syndrome Awareness Walk (DSAW) on Saturday, Sept. 30, at the Capital Credit Union Park in Green Bay.
“The goal for the DSAW-Green Bay Down Syndrome Awareness Walk is to raise visibility and acceptance of people with Down syndrome and related disabilities in Brown, Oconto, Kewaunee, Marinette, and Door Counties,” a DSAW release stated.
“We’re also raising money; the money we earn goes back into the organization and then we provide services, programs, events for individuals with Down syndrome, as well as their families, and other disabilities in the area,” Green Bay DSAW Outreach Coordinator Keri Friebel added.
“We have a Sign and Play class, Buddy Up Tennis; we do open gyms at gymnastics, swimming, bowling events, basically anywhere we can get our individuals with Down syndrome out in the public to get them socially accepted and aware and practice behaviors out in the public.”
DSAW is a non-profit organization that supports people with Down syndrome and related disabilities, touching more than 5,500 individuals and their families each year through its eight chapters around Wisconsin.
“[The program was developed] in 1990; it was just a couple of parents came together, had a vision. From there, they just kept expanding, expanding. In 2008, Green Bay established their own little chapter, so we’re kind of like one big unit with all these little chapters and then Green Bay started off with just a couple of members and now we have over 50 families that actively participate in our events and activities,” Friebel recalled.
John and Shelly Weiland work with the Buddy Up Program said the organization was a way for them to work with children of all abilities “and let them know that they are just as capable of doing things as anybody else” which results in empowerment.
The 2023 walk theme was “Rocketing Beyond Limits!” and participants were asked to dress up in the Down syndrome awareness colors of blue and yellow or using a space theme.
The coordinating family festival included music, games, bouncy houses, balloon artists, face painting, raffles, crafts, activities and mascots.
Attendees with Down syndrome and other disabilities kicked off the walk with a red carpet showcase while friends and family cheered them on.