October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and there's one local organization hoping you'll consider joining a fun and informative event to help celebrate and support those with Down Syndrome and their families.

The group Eastern Maine Down Syndrome Support is a local non-profit organization that was started last year by a group of six parents who got together for a playdate in the park.

2nd Annual Buddy Walk moms, Emily King Photography
2nd Annual Buddy Walk moms, Emily King Photography
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According to one of its founders, Courtney Sebastiano, that one play date inspired a call to action among the parents involved.

"It was a great time of sharing stories, but we all walked away asking ourselves how we could reach more families. We also saw a need to educate our community!"

Sebastiano, as a young mother of 21, was told her son Jackson had Down syndrome, also known as Trisomy 21, just a short while after he was born.

"At the time of our children’s diagnosis, we all heard about what our babies would never do and how difficult our paths would be. What we didn’t hear about was all of the amazing things that our children would be able to do, and how beautiful our journey really would be. Our children are full of joy and love. Of course, there are struggles, but that is why we have each other, and our hope is to expand our circle of support to reach the whole community (and beyond)."

2nd Annual Buddy Walk kiddos, Emily King Photography
2nd Annual Buddy Walk kiddos, Emily King Photography
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That's why Sebastiano and the other parents started the group and planned a celebratory event last year: The First Annual Bangor Buddy Walk.

"Last year over 100 people showed up and we raised over $5,000!"

And they are hoping this year's 2nd Annual Bangor Buddy Walk is even bigger than the one that came before!

"Whether someone you love has Down syndrome or you want to come out to help spread awareness and Inclusion, you won’t want to miss this fun-packed day! If you hurry your $10 registration will include a t-shirt, lunch, all activities..."

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Sebastiano says all the funds raised during the Buddy Walk go to help obtain more resources for these families. Some of it also goes into making goodie bags for moms whose babies have been newly diagnosed with Down Syndrome.

She says someone special will be on hand during this year's Buddy Walk, as well. None other than Maine's own celebrity chef, Chef Adam Libby, who himself has Down Syndrome!  @chefadamlibby will be on hand to sign autographs.

Adam Libby TikTok Videos
Adam Libby TikTok Videos
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To register for the 2nd Annual Buddy Walk, you can click this link.

As their website states "We are so excited to host our second walk.  The Eastern Maine Down Syndrome Support Walk 2022 will kick off October’s Down Syndrome awareness month to promote support, acceptance, and inclusion. Mark your calendar to join us as we do “A little extra 5k” (3.21 miles)! "

2nd Annual Buddy Walk, Eastern Maine Down Syndrome Support
2nd Annual Buddy Walk, Eastern Maine Down Syndrome Support
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The Buddy Walk will take place Saturday, October 8th, starting off at 11 AM from the Bangor Waterfront, 1 Railroad Street.

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