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2014 Buddy Walk® on Washington and Buddy Walk® Conference: Back to Back!   

This year, the annual Buddy Walk® on Washington and Buddy Walk® Conference for Walk Organizers will be held back to back in Washington, DC! 


Calling all Down syndrome advocates!  

The 2014 NDSS Buddy Walk® on Washington is getting closer and NDSS is getting excited for advocates from across the country to join us at the nation's capital! The 2014 Buddy Walk® on Washington will be held on February 26-27 in Washington, DC. Advocates will meet with members of Congress and their staff on Capitol Hill to advance education, research and health care for people with Down syndrome. Whether or not you have advocacy experience, join the Down syndrome community at the annual NDSS Buddy Walk® on Washington to learn about and promote legislative priorities that impact the lives of people with Down syndrome and their families. Registration closes on February 4, so learn more and sign up to join us today


Calling all Buddy Walk® organizers!  

The 6th annual Buddy Walk® Conference for Walk organizers will be held on February 25-26, in Washington, DC, prior to the Buddy Walk® on Washington and the Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action Leadership Conference. The Buddy Walk® Conference is a wonderful opportunity to share best practices from Walk organizers from across the country and to learn about the new partnerships, innovative new tools and additions to the Buddy Walk® program that will help support and enhance your Buddy Walk®. The deadline to reserve a room as part of the NDSS block is February 4, and the registration deadline is February 17, so register to join us today! 



2014 O'Neill Tabani Enrichment Fund Applications Available! 

The O'Neill Tabani Enrichment Fund offers financial assistance to adults - 18 and older - who have Down syndrome and wish to continue to enhance their lives by taking classes or enrolling in postsecondary educational programs. Since 2005, The O'Neill Tabani Enrichment Fund has awarded over 75 grants for post-secondary education to students with Down syndrome. We look forward to a wonderful new set of applicants this year. 



Scholar Spotlight

Zeb Olko 

Congratulations to the O'Neill Tabani Enrichment Fund recipients! In 2013, sixteen outstanding students who have Down syndrome were awarded scholarships to help cover the cost of their postsecondary or enrichment courses, including Zeb Olko of Enfield, CT.  Read what Zeb had to say about going to college.  


Webinar Series
Each month, NDSS provides a free educational webinar to anyone who is interested in learning more about various topics relating to Down syndrome, including health, education, advocacy, family life, research and more. 

Join NDSS on Thursday, February 20 at 1:00 PM ET for Empowering Individuals with Special Needs Through Music.  During the webinar, Daniela Clapp, a piano teacher for individuals with special needs and mother of Christina, who has Down syndrome, will demonstrate how to use the power of music to be your child's greatest advocate and teacher, even if you have no musical background.


Ways to Give
Fundraiser Focus

Nella's Pay it 4Ward Celebration

NDSS is energized by motivated people who contact us about wanting to make a difference in their community and on a national level. Each month, this section features an individual, family or group who has donated time and energy to creating exciting ways to support the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome by raising awareness and money for NDSS.  


Blogger, author and photographer Kelle Hampton has been involved with NDSS and the Down syndrome community since her daughter Nella was born, four years ago. Following the successes of Nella's ONEder Fund, the 2 for 2 Fund and Nella'sTriple Crown, this year Kelle has worked with NDSS Your Way to launch the Pay it 4Ward Celebration in honor of Nella's birthday. "Now, it's so much easier to talk about Down syndrome," Kelle reflects. "It's been a part of our life for four years. Participating in a birthday campaign now is less, 'Hey everybody, let's get on this bike!' and more, 'We've been pedaling for a while; look how far we've traveled; let's keep this thing going and remember why we're doing it.'"


Flagship Events
NDSS hosts several annual events in the New York Metro Area. Our events are growing and we are pleased to welcome people from across the country as our attendees. Please consider joining us at one of our upcoming events.
28th Annual Gala & Auction 
The 28th Annual Gala & Auction took place at the Plaza Hotel in New York City on January 23, and honored the TODAY Show. TODAY Co-anchor Savannah Guthrie accepted the award, and TODAY's Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager were also in attendance. 

24th Annual Spring Luncheon
This Flagship Event will once again be presented by Barnes & Noble and will feature the Melissa Riggio Voices Award. More information coming soon!



18th Annual Golf Outing
Monday, June 16, 2014
Baltusrol Golf Club, Springfield, NJ

20th Annual Flagship Buddy Walk® in New York City
Saturday, September 20, 2014
The Great Hill at Central Park, New York, NY


My Great Story
My Great Story, the largest NDSS public awareness campaign, seeks to ignite a new way of thinking about people with Down syndrome by sharing stories written by and about them. Self-advocates and their family members, friends, coworkers, teachers, coaches, therapists and everyone with a connection to someone with Down syndrome are encouraged to share their stories!


My Great Story of the Month Contest
Congratulations to Susan Leighton of Bryn Mawr, PA on winning the My Great Story of the Month Contest! Susan's story received the most votes in January so she will receive a $50 gift certificate to NYCElectronyx.com. Thank you, Susan, for sharing your story!
The author of the story with the most votes in February will win a Benjamin Down Syndrome Awareness Bracelet and Marissa Down Syndrome Awareness Pendant from Cathy's Creations. Share your story and spread the word throughout the month to win this great prize! 
My Great Story: Stories of the Month
Each month, the two stories with the most votes in the My Great Story collection are featured in this section. The votes are reset at the end of each month.


Visit www.ndss.org/stories to check out the campaign and click the submit bookmark to share your story!

Football - What It's Really All About
By Susan Leighton, Bryn Mawr, PA

I hear my mother telling me that I'll wish for these days back again as well as Kenny Chesney telling me "Don't Blink." As I look at Matthew and wonder where the last 19 years have gone, I realize they were right. Matthew is getting ready to graduate from Radnor High School in Radnor, PA this June and although thankful for so many wonderful things, I think I'm most thankful for the Radnor football program. I've learned football is about far more than records, scoreboards or what happens on the field. More importantly, Matthew has learned that football is about being a team, determination, dedication, perseverance and good old-fashioned hard work.


My Superhero, Bodey Bear

By Amy Swift, Hendersonville, NC
I never expected that I would be a mother, much less twice. And I never expected to be a mother of a child with Down syndrome. But life is not about expectations, life is about living through the unexpected, then learning and growing from it. Bodey came into our lives in October 2010. We quickly realized that we had been blessed; Bodey had chosen us as his family. He must have known we had a lot to learn and that he could teach us more then we could ever learn on our own.


Buddy Walk®
Join over 295,000 people at one of over 250 Buddy Walks® to promote the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome in their own communities. Learn more about the National Buddy Walk® Program and find a local Walk in your area! 
NDSS has many ways to stay up to date on all the latest Buddy Walk® news: on  Facebook,  Twitter and the  Buddy Walk® Pinterest Board. Thank you to everyone who has shared photos and highlights and with us. We look forward to receiving more! 
We also encourage everyone to share their Buddy Walk® stories and photos with the My Great Story campaign, so we can all read about Walks across the country! 

Buddy Walk® News
Celebrating 20 Years of the Buddy Walk® 

We are very excited to commemorate this milestone and look forward to celebrating with you! We invite you to share with us your favorite Buddy Walk® memories and pictures and encourage you to email them to buddywalk@ndss.org. Stay tuned for more information on the Buddy Walk® festivities. 


National Buddy Walk® Partners

NDSS would like to recognize our 2013 National Buddy Walk® Partners for their incredible support of the Down syndrome community and the 250 Walks that took place around the country and overseas this past year. We are excited to announce two new National Partners for the 2014  Buddy Walk® season: Ds-connex and Paystik. For a complete list of our national partners and their contributions to the Buddy Walk® program, please visit our National Buddy Walk® Partners page or Pinterest board.   


2014 Buddy Walk® Organizers: Registration is Open

We are excited that registration for the 2014 Buddy Walk® season is open! Please remember that a new registration must be completed each year in order for your group to remain a part of the national program. Once your Buddy Walk® registration is received by the NDSS office, a customized license agreement will be emailed to you. When the signed agreement is returned to the office (by email, fax or mail), your Walk registration will be processed.  


Are you a new organizer? Get started!       


National Policy Center News
Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act has Reached a Historic Level  Support

NDSS continues to advance the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act (S. 313/H.R. 647). There is no other bill before the US Congress with as much bipartisan, bicameral support as the ABLE Act, and NDSS, along with 100 organizations, continues to be the driving force behind the push for its passage. NDSS is working to position the ABLE Act to pass in the 113th Congress. To date, we have secured 62 cosponsors in the Senate and 325 cosponsors in the House. Passing this ground-breaking legislation will help people with Down syndrome and other disabilities enhance their quality of life and realize their life aspirations.


The NDSS DS-Ambassador Program Continues to Grow as Participants Gear Up for the Buddy Walk® on Washington!

NDSS DS-Ambassadors are volunteer advocates committed to taking part in the democratic process and serve as liaisons between NDSS and their Congressional Delegations. NDSS DS-Ambassadors build long-lasting relationships with US Senators and US Representatives to continually raise awareness, educate and advocate for public policy solutions that benefit the Down syndrome community. We invite interested advocates from across the country to become DS-Ambassadors today and we would love to see many of you in Washington, DC at the Buddy Walk® on Washington




Straight Talk with Chris Burke

Black History Month

NDSS Goodwill Ambassador Chris Burke is best known for his role as Corky Thacher on the hit ABC show "Life Goes On." Chris works in the NDSS office, where he is a member of the staff. In this monthly column, Chris talks about Black History Month and its important message for self-advocates. 


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