The Official Portland Metro & SW Washington Buddy Walk® Festival

Our 2014 Portland Metro and SW Washington Buddy Walk Festival was NWDSA’s largest walk yet, with 2,000 participants showing up to build community with friends, family, and colleagues in support of our loved ones with Down syndrome. Self-advocates Rachel Esteve and Daniel Jarvis-Holland spoke eloquently and movingly about their dreams and goals. Live music, salsa dancing, balloon art, bounce house, slides, games, good eats, auctions and raffles and fun all around
made this sunny, warm day in Portland unforgettable.

See a photo gallery of Buddy Walk 2014

A big thank you for the support of our amazing donors and Buddy Walk teams— your efforts helped us meet our online giving target of $50,000. We are so grateful to all of our sponsors who helped underwrite many of the event costs, and especially for our Diamond Sponsors: Regence BCBS of Oregon and Latitudes, Inc. The Buddy Walk is a model of community effort, and we thank everyone who helped make the day possible: sponsors, auction donors, teams, volunteers, and YOU!

Mark your calendar for next year’s walk: Saturday, September 19, 2015!

Speakers & Entertainment

My friends give me a lot of support. When I have a problem or I just need to talk to someone that I know, they can help. That’s why we have friends, because they can be there for you if you need help. And isn’t that what this Buddy Walk is all about?!
Rachel Esteve

We are all different races, sizes and ages but a community is one big family. I have a lot of dreams for my future. I will need more people on my team to make this happen. When we are all part of a team we can take care of each other and be stronger.
Daniel Jarvis-Holland

Entertainment: ILR Music Collective performs a variety of styles, from Beatles to R&B classics to original songs. This is the second year that ILR Music Collective will be bringing music to the Buddy Walk.

Emcee: Tony Starlight has been entertaining Portlanders for many years as proprietor of the Tony Starlight Supperclub & Lounge and the new Tony Starlight Showroom. This is his fourth year as emcee for NWDSA's Buddy Walk.

Other entertainment includes Salsa dancing with Isis Sanchez, hula hoops demonstrations, Fit4Mom family stretching, balloon art with Olive Rootbeer, and lots more!

2013 Buddy Walk

The History of NWDSA and Buddy Walk®

Our first year, a small group of parents chartered a bus and loaded up vans with participants and drove to Salem to walk along with the Willamette Valley Down Syndrome group. There were roughly 100 participants at NWDSA's first walk. The event has since been moved to the Rose Quarter and the number of participants has grown every year, becoming more than just a walk but a celebration and festival.

Many of the attendees are either family members or friends of individuals in our community who have Down syndrome. Our goal is to continue to grow and reach outside our families to celebrate the wonderful gifts of our larger diverse community and provide a place for people to connect and celebrate together.

In addition to the walk around the Rose Garden arena area, we traditionally feature: face painting, games, hula hooping, balloons, gift bags, live music, inspirational speakers, and a silent auction and raffle.

The funds raised from the event go back into the community to support the following activities of the NWDSA:

· Family socials
· Summer Social
· Open Arms Playgroups
· Mini-grants for parents
· Reciprocal Learning Community events
· New Parent Guide
· Spanish translation services
· Public policy and advocacy work
· Our website
· New Parent Outreach and phone support

The goal of the NWDSA is to grow the Buddy Walk and make it better each year - better in the sense of bringing more families and friends together, and providing a focused day of celebration that we can all feel good about. The NWDSA is a group of parents who share a passion for helping their children and families not just cope but thrive. We volunteer our time to help individuals with Down syndrome lead better lives.