Published in the October 8, 2015 edition.

BURLINGTON — With the support of the Wakefield business community, thousands of advocates will gather on beautiful Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield on Sunday, Oct. 11 to celebrate people with Down syndrome.

The Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress’ 19th Annual Buddy Walk & Family Festival is expected to bring together hundreds of individuals with Down syndrome, family members and friends. The event aims to raise both awareness about Down syndrome and critical funds to support their programs and advocacy work.

The Wakefield business community is supporting the effort:

• Three Wakefield Honey Dew Donut locations are donating 10 percent of their proceeds to the MDSC on the day of the walk.

• Walkers can pick up “Business Buddy Coupons” at the Registration Booths on walk day. They are good for select Wakefield business and courtesy of the Wakefield Area Chamber of Commerce.

The event will be emceed by WBZ-TV anchor Chris McKinnon and will feature a performance by kids’ favorites Karen K. & the Jitterbugs.

Additional highlights include:

• Ayla Brown, country star and American Idol semi-finalist

• Demonstration by George Foreman III, boxer and inspirational speaker

• Dance performance by the Boston Ballet Adaptive Dance Program

• Mr. Vic, Popular Kid’s Music Performer

• Complimentary snacks and refreshments! Optional lunch for purchase during online registration.

• Face Painting, Balloon Artists and Arts & Crafts

The public can register at

This event is presented by Verizon, and sponsored by Joyal Capital Management Foundation Inc., WBZ-TV, EchoStor Technologies, Nestle Waters, the Patrick McLaughlin Memorial Fund, Contact Telecom and Parametric Technology Corporation, among others. See more sponsors at

Families will be attending from throughout the state. Contact the MDSC to be put in touch with a family in your coverage area!

Funds from the Buddy Walk & Family Festival allow the MDSC to provide a wide range of support to those directly affected by Down syndrome and advocate for Down syndrome issues on the local and national level. They support new and expectant families, educate health care professionals about Down syndrome and how to deliver a diagnosis, provide social and leadership development for teens and young adults with Down syndrome, equip educators with best practices and resources and create and influence legislation affecting people with Down syndrome.

More About Down Syndrome

Down syndrome occurs when some or all of a person’s cells have an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. It is the most common chromosomal condition. Life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has increased dramatically in recent decades – from 25 in 1983 to more than 60 today. People with Down syndrome attend school, work; participate in decisions that affect them and contribute to society in many ways. There are more than 400,000 people living with Down syndrome in the United States.

More About the MDSC

As they have over the past nearly three decades, the MDSC continues to ensure that all individuals in Massachusetts with Down syndrome are valued, included and given every opportunity to pursue fulfilling lives. In the early years, parents met in a living room to share information about their children, provide support for each other and strategize how to educate their families, schools and communities. More than 28 years later, the MDSC has over 3,000 members, an energetic Board of Directors, a dynamic management team and a vision to ensure that every person with Down syndrome has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential. Today, the MDSC is on the cutting edge of Down syndrome advocacy at a time when an innovative, forward-thinking vision is needed.

The MDSC offers a broad array of programs to serve people with Down syndrome and their families throughout the state, including: their signature Parent’s First Call Program, a volunteer, state-wide group of trained parent mentors available 24/7 that is a national model; two major annual conferences that draw national and international experts in their fields; a Buddy Walk® Program that gives individuals, schools, community groups and local businesses an opportunity to get involved in fundraising campaigns and events year-round and Self-Advocate Programs like Advocates in Motion and their Self-Advocate Advisory Council, which provide opportunities for teens and adults with Down syndrome while making empowerment a central component.