Walking for a cause
ADRIAN -- About 700 people braved temperatures in the 30s to participate in southwest Minnesota's first National Down Syndrome Society Buddy Walk Saturday morning at Lower Park in Adrian. The purpose of Buddy Walk events is to promote acceptance and inclusion for those with Down syndrome.
The Designer Genes Southwest Minnesota Down Syndrome Network organized the event, along with the Tri-State Down Syndrome Network.
It was set in October to coincide with Down Syndrome Awareness Month. About 50 people ran a 5K, and the rest walked a mile for the cause. After the walk, children's games, music and refreshments were part of the festivities.
"I'm so excited and emotional about the whole thing, it's just amazing," said Julie Kramer, a member of Designer Genes.
"We want (families dealing with Down syndrome) to know there are people out there to help that have been through it," Kramer said.
She thanked volunteers and businesses for supporting the cause.
Volunteers Sherry Bierman, Jessica Frodermann and Shawna Christians started setting up at 7 a.m.
"Despite the cold, we're thankful everyone decided to come out and still do it," Bierman said.
Designer Genes member Stacey Rolling has a daughter with Down syndrome and said her child is like anyone else.
"My daughter is 5, and she loves to play with her friends and run around," Rolling said. "They want the same thing as everybody else. They want friends and to be accepted."
Before the walk, Rolling read the Down syndrome creed, which included:
"We all have the same purpose, though not the same start. The Lord gave me my life to live and embrace, and I'll do it as you do, but at my own pace."
Arlene Rickavaugh came from Sioux Falls, S.D. to walk and show her support. Rickavaugh said that she read in the Daily Globe about a lady in her church, Kim Weidert, was helping to organize the event.
"I think Ariana (Weidert's daughter) was the first one in our church that had such a thing," Rickavaugh said. "So, I thought it would be a good thing to do."
"I'm a retired nurse that took care of babies, so it was important (to come)," Rickavaugh said. "I didn't realize it would be so cold, but it's OK (because) it's a good cause."
Rolling said she's been to other Buddy Walks, including one in Sioux Falls that drew about 1,000 participants.
She said the turnout in Adrian was "tremendous for a rural community versus a big city."
While some advertising was done, Rolling said the biggest factor that drew people in was word of mouth.
"I would love to be able to do it again on a yearly basis," Rolling said. "Obviously with the turn out that we've had it's something that's wanted and needed in this area."
Daily Globe Reporter Kayla Strayer may be reached at 376-7322.