Awareness and acceptance. That's what The Buddy Walk aims to accomplish from those unfamiliar with Down Syndrome.
Every year in the United States, 6,000 babies are born with down syndrome, a genetic disorder caused by a third copy of the 21st chromosome.
"There's a lot of people who don't know a lot about down syndrome," said Lourie Schuenke, President of the Upper Peninsula Down Syndrome Association. "They either don't have somebody in their family, or a friend, or a coworker."
The Buddy Walk began in 1995 with 17 walks around the country and has expanded to 275 walks, this year including Saturday's event held at Escanaba High School.
"Never thought there'd be that many people," said Richard Dubord, who has a son with down syndrome.
Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring genetic disorder, and families at these increasing advocacy events hope every step taken will open eyes and educate others that, despite an extra chromosome, individuals with down syndrome are the same as everyone else.