FARR WEST -- The Utah Down Syndrome Foundation had great success with its third annual Buddy Walk and carnival Saturday morning.
The Buddy Walk is the Weber/Morgan chapter of the UDSF's fundraiser for the year and many donated before the walk even started.
Event chairwomn Tausha Dingham is a past president of the Weber/Morgan UDSF. She said the fundraiser would probably bring in about $15,000 to $20,000 to provide scholarships and other UDSF events during the year.
The scholarships go to WSU's special education students. Many of those students, as well as high school students who want to go into teaching, volunteered at the walk.
Some of the highest needed teachers are special education teachers, said Suzie Davis, one of the event organizers. She has a son with Down syndrome and is also a school teacher.
"This is the perfect place for future special ed teachers to be because they see these kids in the kind of environment they should," Davis said. "They see the interaction with the parents and the meltdowns and the happy times."
This year they added vendor booths to the event as well as a few more carnival-type events like face painting and people dressed up as super heroes and princesses, which was a big hit. Last year the Weber/Morgan chapter participated in the Salt Lake Buddy Walk but found that many local sponsors and families like having their own event in the Weber/Morgan area.
"People like to know that their money is staying with the kids here," Dingham said.
Amber Fast, a junior at Ogden High School, volunteered at the walk. She plans to be a teacher and is part of the Teachers of Tomorrow program. She loved spending her morning with the families and the Down syndrome kids.
"I like it a lot. It's nice to be around these little angels," she said. "It's so precious to see how many people give up their day to come and help out."
Lynda Huss, an early intervention specialist for Weber and Morgan counties, also has a son with Down syndrome. She has attended each Buddy Walk but this year became more involved with donations for the raffle and other events. It's a family event she wouldn't miss.
She also likes the idea of having the future teachers on hand to help out.
"They get to know these kids that they will probably teach. It also helps the stigma go away," she said referring to kids with special needs.
As Huss interacted with her son about the events of the day she noted how happy the Down syndrome kids are and how delightful it is to be in their presence.
"They are one of the few people I know that never hold any grudges," she said as she gave her son Jace a high five.
The crowd was happy as many ate a lunch donated by Red Robin and enjoyed the many booths after the walk. The crowd cheered and clapped as items were raffled off and tickets counted.
Celia Remkes attended the event with her 2-year-old daughter Joanna for the first time.
"It's a wonderful event," she said. "It's great to get awareness out there that Down syndrome is nothing to be terrified of."