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Spirits Not Dampened by Rain at 3rd Annual Buddy Walk

Alexander’s Angels 3rd Long Island Buddy Walk attracted over 1,000 participants, under rainy and blustery conditions at the Nassau Community College Field House on Oct. 18. The extreme weather conditions reminded many of the first Buddy walk held on Long Island, which was successful under similar conditions.   

This year’s event was led by two celebrities born with Down syndrome – Ashley Wolfe, a movie and television actress and national motivational speaker who received a proclamation from the New York State Senate, and Chris Burke, best known for the four years spent playing Charles “Corky” Thatcher on the hit ABC-TV show Life Goes On and his reoccurring role as Taylor, the angel of faith on the hit CBS-TV show Touched by an Angel. Prior to the walk, the two celebrities addressed the participants with very uplifting messages. Burke accompanied by brothers Joe and John DeMasi delighted the crowd with inspiring, uplifting and entertaining music after the walk.

Nassau County Legislator David W. Dennenberg (19th L.D.) presented Alexander’s Angels with a citation and entertainment was provided by DJ Danny Walsh of Party-Up Productions. The event also featured a large train display, crafts, a toss game, face painting, raffles; Star War characters from the 501st Legion’s Empire City Garrison, juggler Adam Van Houten of Briarcliffe College, the St. Joseph’s College Dance Club and break dancer Matthew Castellano, who was born with Down syndrome.  Refreshments, snacks and lunch were provided by Taco Bell and Whole Foods, and  Event Images, Inc. provided a bouncy castle and cotton candy machine.  There was also a PowerPoint presentation featuring photos and bios of individuals with Down syndrome from each team represented at the Buddy Walk.

The Buddy Walk was established in 1995 by the National Down Syndrome Society to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome and to celebrate October, National Down Syndrome Awareness Month.  With 17 events across the United States, the premiere advocacy event for Down syndrome was off to a great start.  By 2007 more than 270 Buddy Walk events had taken place across the country and abroad.

It was in 2007 that Long Island had its first Buddy Walk, organized by the family and friends of Phoenix, AZ resident Alexander Gomez-Nieto whose parents originally come from Long Island. In addition to the Buddy Walk, Alexander’s Angels has established the panel presentation The Up of Down: An Insight Into the World of Down Syndrome and DOWNrightART, an exhibit of the works of artists born with Down syndrome. For more information visit www.alexandersangels.org.