Since we all have to walk on our own paths during our journeys on this earth we can truly never understand the difficulties that others encounter as they travel their own paths. However if we take the time to walk along side others we may gain a greater understanding of the paths they are on and the challenges that life presents to them. It was with that in mind that I participated in the 6th Annual North Canton Buddy Walk which was held “to celebrate the abilities and accomplishments of people with Down Syndrome.” Despite a pouring rain, upwards of 400-500 people gathered to walk in support of people with Down Syndrome. What first impressed me as I got to the staging area for the walk were the smiles on people’s faces and their sense of joy as they gathered together to support friends and family.
I met people such as Brent Grenzow who despite his own handicap came all the way from Elyria with his sister Brenda to participate in the walk as members of Team Malcolm.
Then there was Ryan Troyer and the members of Team Ryan. As they huddled together under the pavilion roof awaiting the start of the walk they exuded a true feeling of celebration as they proudly wore their Team Ryan t-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “IT’S MORE UPS, THAN DOWNS.”
Then there was the Reece’s Rainbow tent where I met little Anna Kenyon, a double cute little girl with Down Syndrome who had been recently adopted by a loving family with the assistance of the Reece’s Rainbow adoption ministry.
But it was the members of Team Jeff who were there to walk in memory of Jeff Hutton who impressed me most. Jeff passed away on July 11th, 2012. Today was his birthday. Born September 8th, 1973 Jeff would have celebrated his 39th birthday; instead his mother, along with uncle and aunt Ken and Joyce Carani were at the walk in celebration of Jeff. Team Jeff walked with smiles on their faces despite their loss.
Indeed, everyone I saw participating the walk was upbeat, and smiled and laughed their way around the walking path. And as I walked away from the event I had a smile on my face because I felt enriched from just being around these people who were not going to let a thing like Down syndrome get them down as they walked on their paths throughout life.