MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Cassie Samaj with the Coastal Alabama Down Syndrome Society joins us to talk about big events happening in a few days. For more information click here. Here’s a look at our conversation:
Chad: This coming week are the biggest fundraisers for the Down Syndrome Society. You have a gala and the annual Buddy Walk. First let’s talk about the gala, what is happening this year?
Cassie: This is our inaugural 321 Gala and Silent Auction being held on October 18th at 6:30. Our organization wants the community to see our young adults and all they are capable of doing. They will be our servers, host and hostess and working the silent auctions. We want the community to see that our kids are employable and this gives them purpose. Sean McElwee, star of the Emmy Award-winning A&E program Born This Way, will be our keynote speaker. I’ve been lucky enough to hear him speak on several occasions and he’s amazing. Our second event for the weekend is our annual Buddy Walk at Bienville Square on Saturday, October 19th at 9:00.
Chad: The Buddy Walk is this Saturday. Your family is walking, my family is walking, for people that don’t know, what is the Buddy Walk?
Cassie: The Buddy Walk is an awareness event as well as our most important fundraiser. It is a family event. We have a petting zoo, bounce houses, clowns, games, food, music, photo booth, princesses, super heros and the Azalea Trail Maids. We have on average 1,300 walkers that take over the streets of downtown Mobile for the 1 mile walk.
Chad: Why is it important to raise the profile of and awareness of Down Syndrome?
Cassie: There are a lot of misconceptions of what our individuals are capable of doing. Getting the community together for an event like this let’s the community see individuals with Down syndrome are not all that different from us. They truly can do anything they put their minds to but on their own time table. We have many young adults that have jobs, attend college and are advocates.
Chad: What does the money raised this week help pay for?
Cassie: The money we raise goes towards support programs for our families, we send families to conferences to learn more about Down syndrome so they can better help their family member, we offer scholarships to Camp Smile to allow children with a financial need the ability to attend, we bring speakers in to talk about various issues that affect our kids, we donate to Westside Buddy Ball and Special Olympics, events that are so important for our kids to participate in.
Chad: What is the mission of the Down Syndrome Society and what does the larger public need to now about kids and adults with Down Syndrome?
Cassie: Our mission is to provide enrichment through education, networking opportunities, advocacy, and emotional support for individuals with Down Syndrome, their families and the greater community of Coastal Alabama. One in every 691 babies in the United States is born with Down Syndrome, making Down Syndrome the most common genetic condition. That being said, we think that our community needs to believe in our individuals and never assume they cannot do certain things. Believe in them as we do.