DANIEL ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - It's a condition affecting more than 400,000 Americans. October marks Down syndrome awareness month. The Down Syndrome Association of the Lowcountry will host the annual Buddy Walk event on Sunday to spread awareness and acceptance of the condition.
Natalie Baker brings her son Grant for therapy at a local pediatric gym once a week. She found out about his down syndrome at 11 weeks. "We don't focus our attention on the fact that grant as a 9-year-old and that's the way we want to treat him, like all the rest of them he's a happy little boy," Baker said.
While some families may struggle with a diagnosis like this, Baker say she stays focused on the positives. Organizations like the DSAL have helped.
"I have met so many different and wonderful people that I probably never would have been exposed to have I not had a child with Down syndrome. Honestly, it's not scary," Baker said.
The association helps families network, find out about treatments, and it hosts events like the annual Buddy Walk.
It is set to take place on Sunday at 12:30 p.m., at the Etiwan Park on Daniel Island. It will include face painting, food, and other fun events.
"Coming out and supporting the families physically and monetarily showing support at the buddy walk really reaffirms our area's commitment for all kids to be included," DSAL Buddy Walk director Coby Mozingo said.
Baker hopes events like the Buddy Walk may help other understand her child is just like anyone else's.
"They are just wonderful, loving human beings and we just want everybody to know that," Baker said.
There are more than 250 Buddy Walks scheduled across the country to benefit different Down syndrome associations. Charleston has the third largest buddy walk nationwide, with more than 3,500 people expected to attend.