ADRIAN -- On a clear Friday morning in Adrian, John and Kim Weidert sia down at their dining room table to chat about the upcoming Down syndrome awareness event.
The Buddy Walk, scheduled for Oct. 6 at Grove Park in Adrian, is the first of its kind in Nobles County.
Kim explained the purpose of the event, hosted in October to coincide with National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, is "to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome."
The Weiderts became involved with the Buddy Walk, started by the National Down Syndrome Society in 1995, after the birth of their now-7-year-old daughter Ariana.
Ariana -- blonde-haired, blue-eyed and full of energy -- was born with Down syndrome, the most common chromosome abnormality found in humans. While their chromosomes are normal, those with Down syndrome are born with an extra No. 21 chromosome associated with delays in cognitive abilities and physical growth.
In addition to these challenges, the Weiderts said Ariana has also encountered eating and swallowing problems.
"One of her big issues was food. She didn't like different textures in her mouth," Kim said.
Speaking of Ariana's milk allergy, John said: "We're hoping she'll grow out of it. It's kind of funny because (I'm) a dairy farmer."
Her eating has improved, Kim said, adding that chicken fries and corn dogs are her favorites.
Kim said that her daughter, now a second-grader, loves going to school and playing with her friends.
Ariana's brothers, ages 12, 11 and 2, enjoy helping out their only sister, and teaching her new things, John said.
"That's not always a good thing," he added, chuckling.
The Weiderts agree that Ariana makes her siblings "more compassionate toward others."
Some of Ariana's favorite hobbies include playing basketball and football with her brothers, cuddling with her dog, Lizzy, and being involved with 4-H. This summer, she showed a dairy cow at their county fair.
The Weiderts said one of the biggest messages of the event is to let others know that children with Down syndrome are just like any other child. The Buddy Walk includes a 5K run starting at 8:30 a.m., and a one-mile walk at 10:30 a.m.
Pre-registration is now available through Friday, after which fees will increase. Refreshments and T-shirts will be available at the event.
For more information, contact the Weiderts at (507) 483-2814, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Daily Globe Reporter Kayla Strayer may be reached at 376-7322.