Oct. 5, 2011
By Hilary Ferguson
Members of the University of Notre Dame community gathered on Saturday, Oct. 1 on campus for the annual walk for Down syndrome. This year marked the 10-year milestone for the walk with more than 700 individuals participating in the event.
The Down Syndrome Family Support and Advocacy Group, also known as Michiana Down Syndrome, is devoted to fostering a community of acceptance for individuals with Down Syndrome by helping them to achieve their greatest potential. Through the annual walk for Down syndrome, the non-profit organization aims to promote acceptance of those affected, raise funds for national research, and provide local programs with support and advocacy.
Contributors and participants gathered at Notre Dame’s Stepan Center for various activities, including a silent auction and carnival games. Families enjoyed lunch and live entertainment while informational vendors provided educational material about Down syndrome.
A number of Irish student-athletes once again represented many of the University’s athletic teams. Members of the baseball, women’s soccer, fencing, and hockey squads were in full force throughout the day’s activities.
Notre Dame senior pitcher Will Hudgins describes the event as a “great opportunity for teams to gather and show their support for an important cause.” Hudgins joined teammates Donnie Hissa and Scott Kerrigan for an afternoon of walking and laughing with families and children affected by Down syndrome.
Participants began their walk at Stepan Center, then wound their way through Notre Dame’s scenic campus before ending their journey in Notre Dame Stadium. While enjoying the first, crisp Saturday afternoon of October, walkers were able to take family photos while meeting and greeting many of their favorite Notre Dame student-athletes.
“Our team looks forward to participating in this event every year,” says Eric Ringel, an undergraduate student assistant coach for the Irish hockey team. “We are very fortunate and privileged as student-athletes at Notre Dame and it is important that we take time out for those in need, meet new people, and participate in events like this one.” Other members of the hockey team participated in the day’s activities included Sean Lorenz, Riley Sheahan, and Peter Schneider.
Many of the walkers formed teams for a friend or family member affected by Down Syndrome, expressing support by walking together with personalized t-shirts, spirit wear, and signs. Other children found the hands of Notre Dame student-athletes, accompanying and entertaining them throughout the walk.
“We decided as a team to come out and show our support today by participating in the walk,” says Ellen Jantsch, a senior member of the women’s soccer team. “The walk was an amazing experience and we were able to meet so many families and kids with truly inspiring stories.”
— ND —