Organization celebrates children with down syndrome, families at annual Buddy Walk in Niles

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The drive-thru style event kept volunteers socially distant the entire time as kids and their family's drove by

NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – On Sunday in Trumbull County, organizers of the Buddy Walk celebrated children with down syndrome and their families, not wanting them to feel forgotten during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Surrounded by family and friends, 11-year-old Quintino from Poland participated in his tenth Buddy Walk at Eastwood Field.

“We don’t use the word special in our home,” said Amy Desantis, Quintino’s mom. “Quintino is Quintino.”

Joined by his twin sister Giada and all of their friends, Quintino rode in a pickup truck designed to look like a WWE wrestling ring.

“They were the stars of the event. All of our families were the stars,” said Michele Jones, president of the Down Syndrome Association of the Valley.

Jones is also the co-founder of the Down Syndrome Association of the Valley.

They’ve been hosting the Buddy Walk for 13 years.

Jones says there wasn’t a doubt in their mind that the Buddy Walk was going to happen for the thousand people that registered, even if they couldn’t actually walk together.

“We were going to do something… We talked to other groups across the country, and we knew we were going to do something to celebrate our families,” Jones said.

The drive-thru style event kept volunteers like Spider-Man and the Scrappers mascot socially distant the entire time as kids and their family’s drove by, shared a smile, a wave or had themselves a dance party.

“It’s a day to come out and celebrate. Celebrate everybody that we love and be surrounded by your family and friends,” said Desantis. “It’s a beautiful celebration.”

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