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The Buddy Walk - Nashville is FUN!  FUN! ... and MORE FUN!

The Buddy Walk is the premier advocacy event for Down syndrome in the United States.  It promotes acceptance and inclusion for those with Down syndrome and highlights the beautiful ways in which those with Down syndrome enhance our families and communities   It is also the primary fundraiser for DSAMT and allows us to accomplish our mission of enhancing the lives of those with Down syndrome throughout the lifespan.  The funds raised at the Nashville Buddy Walk support all of the education, advocacy and support programs offered by DSAMT including:


     *First Call Program for families with a new diagnosis
     *DS Learn Program providing information & resources
     *Support Groups (Moms, Dads, Grandparents)
     *Self-Advocate Programs (Circle of Friends, Next Chapter Book Club)
     *Summer Camps (creative arts, bike camp, kids' camp)
     *Educational Workshops for caregivers
     *Community Outreach Training & information to schools, physicians
     *Family Connection Activities (egg hunt, summer picnic, holiday party)
     * and much more!

A small percentage of the funds raised at the Nashville Buddy Walk support the NDSS National Policy Center advocacy for federal, state, and local policies that positively impact those with Down syndrome.

DSAMT encourages our Celebrities with Down syndrome to invite friends, family, classmates, teachers, neighbors, legislators and other celebrities—to join them on the Buddy Walk.  And we invite anyone from the community to come out and enjoy the celebration with us and encourage them to start their own team in honor of all individuals with Down syndrome!  On Buddy Walk day, teams enjoy the beautiful walk around Centennial Park and a bunch of fun festivities and activities, which include live entertainment & special performances, bounce houses, games, crafts, vendors, shopping, visiting exhibitor booths, food trucks, give-a-ways and fun times with families, friends and individuals with Down syndrome.  We will recognize several community members who have done "something extra" and made a real difference in the lives of those with Down syndrome. We will also recognize the top fundraising teams and award our biggest prizes ever.

What is new in 2013?

The Buddy Walk should be just as exciting your 16th time as it was your first, so we are making some exciting changes.  This year we will recognize everyone with Down syndrome with Celebrity status.   This means that in addition to receiving a 2013 Buddy Walk medal, Celebrities will receive a special star to which they'll add their name and handprints to take home after the walk. We will also designate part of our walk as the "Walk of Fame" to recognize those who reach a certain level of fundraising with a custom-printed sign including their photo.  We will  feature many of our Celebrities in our first annual DSAMT Buddies of the Year video and on our DSAMT and Buddy Walk Facebook pages.


We will also introduced a new level of registration, which includes "Groupie" as a way to recognize and reward those who make a $21 general donation at registration.


We are expecting a record number of participants in 2013 and want to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible for all our participants and is more successful than ever.  In order to do that, we need to get an earlier estimation on the number of people and fundraising efforts, so we have introduced a preregistration period effective now until September 20, 2013.  Registration is still free for everyone, but you have to register by September 19th in order to get a free T-shirt.  Walkers can still register for free after September 19th, but they'll have to purchase their walk T-shirt.


DSAMT relies on your support for the Buddy Walk, which is our primary fundraiser for the entire year.  This year, we will introduce new incentives for fundraising, which will be announced very soon, and a fundraising support program. DSAMT will also count sponsorship dollars that you bring in to your team total as well (rules will be posted soon).  In addition, because letter writing campaigns are so effective, DSAMT will pay the postage (and our volunteers will do the stuffing and labeling) for your letter writing campaign!  More information coming very soon on that.


Finally, we are adding new community award, called "Buddies' Choice Awards," and we'll ask our DSAMT families to nominate an educator, a physician and a self-advocate who has done that "something extra" to improve the lives of those with Down syndrome.  Then, we'll notify all nominees and allow for online voting.  This is a perfect opportunity for you to thank those who have made a difference in your family's life and for us to increase our community interest in the Buddy Walk.  Nominations are being accepted for the following categories:  1) Physician or medical professional, 2) Educator/Administrator, 3) Self-Advocate.  Of course, we will also continue our tradition of the Mollie Gavigan Award.
To nominate for any of these awards, please email with your contact information, along with the name and contact information of the people you are nominating (and for which category) by September 21, 2013.  Once all the nominations are in, we'll post the nominees online for voting!

Do I need to register?

Yes!  It is very important that everyone who attends the walk registers so we can plan accordingly (and better plan for the next year).  This year, there are 3 NEW levels of registration:

DSAMT Celebrity:  Celebrity registration is reserved for those with Down syndrome. A walk T-shirt and celebrity goodie bag are included. No fee.

Walker: Walk participants registered by September 19, 2013 will receive a free T-shirt and access to walk entertainment & activities.  No fee.

DSAMT Groupie:  Groupies are DSAMT's super supporters who make a $21 general donation at registration. Groupies receive a free T-shirt, regardless of date of registration, and 3 tickets for the door prize drawings.  Fee is $21.

Everyone who preregisters by midnight on September 30th will also get a free T-shirt.  T-shirts will be for sale for anyone who doesn't preregister. 

CLICK HERE to register.  On the main page, click "Register" to begin the process.  You'll be asked to select the number of people you are registering for each level (Celebrity, Walker, Groupie).  Then you'll be asked to login or create a new Firstgiving account.  At the end of each step look for the green "Next" button.   Firstgiving will then walk you through each registration step to create or join a team, create your fundraising page and make a donation.  Should you have any questions, please ask.  The site is much improved over previous years, but it can still be confusing, especially to those new to Firstgiving.  We are here to help.  Call us at 615-386-9002 or email at

What is the schedule?

9:00AM - TEAM CHECK-IN, ON-SITE REGISTRATION, DSAMT MARKETPLACE OPEN, PRE-WALK ACTIVITIES All walkers who pre-register by midnight on September 19th will get a free Buddy Walk T-shirt.  Shirts will be for sale starting Sept 20 and at the walk. Every "Celebrity"  (individual with Down syndrome) will receive a Buddy Walk T-shirt, celebrity goodie bag and door prize ticket. Everyone who registers as a "Groupie" will receive a Buddy Walk T-shirt and door prize ticket. NOTE: You can Pre-Register until midnight on September 30, 2013.

10:00AM - OPENING CEREMONIES, COMMUNITY AWARDS, ENTERTAINMENT, ZUMBA WARM-UP Our guest emcee will kick off the day with opening remarks and help us recognize community members who have done "something extra" for those with Down syndrome.  Then, we'll have a few special performances and a Zumba warm up!  You can also view the Faces of DSAMT video (NEW in 2013!)

11:00AM - WE WALK!  WE CELEBRATE!  Rain, snow or shine the band will strike up a beat, and we'll take the beautiful walk around Centennial Park.


*Shop the DSAMT store and Market Place for those with Down syndrome
*Visit exhibitor booths and play Buddy Bingo for door prize tickets
*Music and dancing with live entertainment
*Games!  Bounce Houses!  Crafts!  Face Painting!  Pumpkin decorating!
*Bring or purchase lunch
*DSAMT Door Prize Giveaway

How can my team raise money?

You can raise money anyway you can!  The website we use to organize our Buddy Walk Teams is Firstgiving works best when you set a specific fundraising goal and recruit friends, family, coworkers, etc. to join your team.  You will want to encourage everyone on your team to make their own personal fundraising pages, as that can dramatically help increase your team total.  On these pages, they can tell their own stories and include their own photos, and any money raised goes toward the team total.  You can create your own competition with team members, too, for added fun.  Send the team page link to everyone you know and explain why this is important to you. Posting links and updates on Facebook/Twitter will also increase your fundraising significantly - plus it helps spread awareness.


Even in today's digital world, a personal letter that explains why this cause is important and asks for a donation is really the most effective way to fundraise.  It is so useful that if your team writes a personalized letter and includes a photo to help tell your story, DSAMT volunteers will print and stuff those letters and DSAMT will pay the postage of up to 100 letters! 


Are there any prizes?

There are many prizes and recognition opportunities at the Buddy Walk for teams who support DSAMT by fundraising.  In addition to incredible incentives CLICK HERE, prizes will be awarded to the following fundraising teams:

    *First place
    *Second Place
    *Third Place
    * First Place Community Team (not walking in honor of any one individual with Down syndrome)

The following teams/individuals will also be recognized:  

    *Most Team Spirit  
    *Team with the greatest number of donations of at least $21.00
    *Youngest Person with Down Syndrome in attendance  
    *Oldest Person with Down Syndrome in attendance 

Important Documents

Click on any of the links below to download PDFs of important 2013 Buddy Walk Documents.


Buddy Walk Sponsor Packet

Sponsorship Application

Exhibitor Registration

Mollie Gavigan Service Award Nomination Form

Buddy Walk Flyer!

Fundraising Support

How to get Sponsors for your Team

Employer Sponsorship Ask Template Letter

Sponsorship Ask Template Letter

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Buddy Walk?

The Buddy Walk is more than just a one day event, and it is much more than just fundraising for DSAMT.  The Buddy Walk is the premier advocacy event for Down syndrome in the United States.  It not only raises money for important DSAMT and NDSS programs that support those with Down syndrome and their families, but it promotes acceptance and inclusion for those with Down syndrome and highlights the beautiful ways in which those with Down syndrome enhance our families and communities.

For weeks leading up to the Walk, individuals form teams to honor their friends and family members with Down syndrome.  Some teams honor a specific individual, while others support the community as a whole.  They create personal fundraising pages with photographs and tell their stories about why participating in the Buddy Walk is important to them, and they set individual and team goals.  There are many contests and incentive levels that drive fundraising leading up to the walk.


Where is the Buddy Walk exactly?

The 2013 Buddy Walk will take place on Parthenon Lawn in Centennial Park (2500 West End Avenue  Nashville, Tennessee 37203)

Who can participate in the Buddy Walk?

Anyone and Everyone!  We encourage our Celebrities with Down syndrome to everyone from friends and family to classmates and teachers, neighbors, legislators and other celebrities to join them at the Buddy Walk.  Every participant helps promote the importance of understanding, acceptance and awareness.

How can I get involved?

Register and join a team or start your own team!  First register, then, make your own fundraising page where you can include your personal story, photos, and videos and share via email or social media.  Use the Firstgiving email function to send this to your friends, family, co-workers, congregation, etc.  Encourage people to join your team and ask them to make their own fundraising pages to tell their story and send to their friends and family as well.

I think my company might like to get involved.  How do we do that?

There are fabulous sponsorship opportunities available.  Please contact Alecia Talbott at of 615-3856-9002 or anyone on the DSAMT Board of Directors for more information.  

I didn't preregister.  Can I still get a walk T-shirt?

Yes.  Shirts will be for sale at the walk, while supplies last. 


Are there opportunities to volunteers?

Absolutely!  We need help with everything from planning to day-of logistics to volunteers just to cheer on our teams.  Contact us for more information. 



Every participant helps promote the importance of understanding, acceptance and awareness. Whether you have Down syndrome or know someone who does or just want to show your support, join us at the Buddy Walk - Nashville - 2013. 



DSAMT is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization funded by private support from individuals, foundations, community organizations and fundraising efforts.