Hundreds Participate in Walk to Raise Awareness of Down Syndrome

Fitzherbert Glen Niles President and Founder of DSFN receives a cheque for $20,000 from Naresha Ali

The Nelson Mandela Park at St Clair, Port of Spain came to life on Sunday October 19th 2014 when hundreds of persons responded to the call to join the 3rd annual Buddy Walk to raise awareness of Down syndrome. The 2014 Buddy Walk Trinidad and Tobago was organized by the locally-based Down Syndrome Family Network (DSFN) and was held at 2pm at the Nelson Mandela Park (formerly the King George V Park). Led by certified trainers from the Long Circular Gym, participants waved, jumped and walked to lively music played by the University of the Southern Caribbean Marching Band from Maracas, St Joseph. The walk then proceeded to the Queen’s Park Oval for a festival of family activities until 6pm including a large fun park, kids’ games and a benefit concert with family-oriented entertainment and performances by several artistes. Persons of all ages and abilities participated in the annual walk and received t-shirts, complimentary drinks, refreshments and lots of giveaways from the corporate sponsors. blink | bmobile was a proud sponsor of this important walk for the third consecutive year.

The Buddy Walk is the only one held in the Caribbean and commenced with registration and the distribution of t-shirts to all participants. This was followed by a 10-minute warm-up during which the Long Circular Gym fitness trainers got the crowd fired up to the lively music played by the DJ. Founder and President of the DSFN, Fitzherbert Glen Niles, then sounded the horn to signal the start of the walk and led the participants for one lap around the Nelson Mandela Park. Many could not resist the enticing sounds of the accompanying marching band and could be seen dancing along the designated route. The walk participants then proceeded to the Queen’s Park Oval for the cool down, followed by the festival and concert hosted by MCs Nikki Crosby and Paul Richards. Attendees were kept well hydrated with lots of drinks and refreshments and were happy to leave at the end of the afternoon’s activities with giveaways from the corporate sponsors including blink | bmobile. blink | bmobile also hosted a booth at the walk which featured a lively gaming area and the chance to top up and win many exciting prizes and merchandize.

Naresha Ali, Marketing Manager, bmobile congratulated the DSFN on another successful Buddy Walk and shared that blink | bmobile was proud to be an annual sponsor. Suite noted “The walk is a great way to increase the awareness of Down syndrome and the support available to persons with Down syndrome and their families. It is heartwarming to see how many people came out to participate in the walk and the healthy, fun-filled activities. The blink | bmobile Foundation is committed to ensuring that differently abled citizens are afforded the opportunity to excel and enjoy happy lives and educating our society is an right step towards guaranteeing this.”

Fitzherbert Glen Niles is the father of a child with Down syndrome and has the experience of what is needed to help persons with Down syndrome have full and meaningful lives. Niles explained the objectives for the annual Buddy Walk. “Since its inception in 1995, the Buddy Walk has been the premier advocacy event for Down syndrome globally. The objective of the Buddy Walk is to raise awareness and funds for programmes that benefit people with Down syndrome and their families. By supporting our Buddy Walk, you are supporting the acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome.” Niles noted “When we started the Buddy Walk in 2012 we had over 600 participants. This year we sold over a 1,000 T-shirts.” Niles thanked blink | bmobile for coming on board as a partner and sponsor from inception and over the years. He said “We really appreciate the continued support of blink | bmobile. We couldn’t achieve the progress we did without the ongoing support of blink | bmobile and our other corporate sponsors.”

The Down Syndrome Family Network (DSFN) of Trinidad & Tobago is a non-profit organization based in Trinidad with a mission is to support loved ones and care-givers of individuals with Down syndrome through advocacy, education and research, in order for those individuals to live as independently as possible and become valued members of their community and society. The Buddy Walk was started in 1995 by the National Down Syndrome Society in New York with over 70 walks in just the USA alone. In 2013, there were 250 Buddy Walks worldwide with over 350,000 participants, including the Buddy Walk Trinidad and Tobago. Further information on Down syndrome can be obtained from the DSFN’s website or their Facebook page.

Founder and President of the Down Syndrome Family Network Trinidad and Tobago Fitzherbert Glen Miles (extreme right) with his son Tyrece and Miss Trinidad and Tobago World Sarah Jane Waddell

Down Syndrome Family Network Trinidad and Tobago Director Laura Cotton with her husband Anthony Lee Kong and children Adelaide and Oliver

Even the superheroes came out to support the Down Syndrome Buddy Walk 2014 as Spiderman made an appearance to the delight of his fans

There was fun and healthy competition at the Down Syndrome Buddy Walk 2014 as participants challenged each other using the blink | bmobile Xbox One