GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The 16th annual Buddy Walk was held Saturday evening to benefit the National Down Syndrome Society. More than 3,000 people showed up for the event, which was held at the Gulfport SportsPlex.
The event is hosted each year by the Gulf Coast Down Syndrome Society as a means to raise money and have fun, but most importantly, the walk aims to support people with Down Syndrome and their families.
"It's about awareness and we are just thrilled with the community response we get for this event," said Kim Duffy, executive director of the GCDSS. "It's just unbelievable. It really is just about promoting inclusion, acceptance. Our children and this next generation, they want to go to college. They want to work. So that's what it's really all about."
According to Duffy, the event is a great way for the GCDSS to reach out to families who need the support.
"We had a two month old who had her first Buddy Walk today and that's what we're here for," Duffy said. "We want to be there to support those families and let them know what a bright future is out there for them."
The three teams with the most members were presented with trophies at the awards ceremony after the walk. Then, a talent show was held for anyone who wanted to show off their skills.
Nearly 300 Buddy Walks are planned this year around the world. Last year, Buddy Walks raised nearly $13 million.