MOSES LAKE — A last-minute rescheduling couldn’t dampen the smiles of the walkers at the Down Syndrome Society of Grant County’s annual Buddy Walk Saturday.
The event was supposed to have taken place Sept. 28, but a sudden cold snap forced organizers to postpone it, said Buddy Walk committee chairwoman Denise Ketola.
“Two weeks ago it was very cold and rainy and we didn’t want anyone getting out there and getting sick,” she said. “There were quite a few people who didn’t end up getting to come because of the change. They had plans; they were okay with coming that day and couldn’t come yesterday, I guess. I think there would have been more if it had been a good day and on the day we planned to begin with. I was amazed at the turnout we had though, even after it had to be rescheduled.”
And a good turnout it was, especially if you measured in enthusiasm. This is the seventh year Moses Lake has participated in the annual event, one of hundreds that take place across the country. People with Down Syndrome – and the folks who love them – gathered at the Centennial Amphitheater at McCosh Park, where a wide variety of activities and assistance were available. Safeway brought water and granola bars for the walkers, and Moses Lake Grocery Outlet chipped in free chips. Home Depot had kits, tools and workbenches for anyone who wanted to build something wooden. Another booth had all the makings for medals and paper crowns. The community came together to show its appreciation for people with Down Syndrome.
Which was exactly the point, said Kerry Aronsohn, president of the Down Syndrome Society of Grant County.
“Our whole event is to promote awareness and inclusion of people with Down Syndrome,” she said. “To help communities to recognize their names.”
The theme, officially or unofficially, revolved around superheroes and princesses. A group from Spokane was originally scheduled to come in costume, Ketola said, but the date change made that impossible. So a group of Moses Lake High School students volunteered to dress up and entertain the attendees.
They weren’t the only ones, either. The MLHS cheerleaders were there, leading them in some dancing. The Soap Lake Masquers also provided entertainment, and Masquers performer Allison Pheasant sang the National Anthem to kick off the event.
There were treats as well.
“The popcorn, we just rented the machine and someone donated the popcorn,” Ketola said. “Tiki Hut came too. We did pay them but it was worth it. All the kids, that was their favorite thing. And when there’s no limit, that was all the better.”
After a dance session on the stage and some warming up, the event culminated in the Buddy Walk itself, in which all the attendees took to the sidewalks and made a loop around a few blocks of downtown Moses Lake. High school volunteers held signs at points along the route to make sure nobody got lost.
“It’s pretty cool that they’re educating people about Down Syndrome,” said Kimber Lybbert, a teacher at MLHS who brought some of her students to help. “They can come down and see the world from a different viewpoint.”