2022 Buddy Walk brings families, friends together for a cause
Connor Friend, left, and Colton Jacobs of Sapulpa enjoy a little camaraderie Sunday at the Tulsa Buddy Walk, held at Holland Hall. Connor is the son of Ashley and David Friend. Colton is the son of Michelle and Josh Jacobs. Photo/Mary Lou Montgomery
MARY LOU MONTGOMERY
Bubbles and balloons and story-book characters, crystal blue skies, a whiff of breeze, and an abundance of laughter and love combined on Sunday, Sept. 25, during the 20th annual DSAT Buddy Walk at Tulsa’s Holland Hall.
Some twenty five hundred people gathered for the annual celebration of camaraderie, spotlighting the “alikes” rather than the “differences” of people with Down syndrome.
Teams gathered in support of friends and family, raising funds and awareness. Unique team names adorned signs and T-shirts: “Kayla’s Krew,” “Lucky Loving Lane,” “Colton’s Crusaders” and, in the case of Mayor G.T. Bynum’s own family, “Team Mighty Matthew.”
Michelle Jacobs and Ashley Friend, both of Sapulpa, established a solid and lasting friendship through the Down Syndrome Association of Tulsa. “I met Ashley (at a DSAT meeting) when I was pregnant” with Colton, Michelle said. Ashley’s son, Connor, was an infant at the time.
The two women became fast friends, and as time went on, the boys clicked as well. Now the boys play together, have sleep overs, go to therapy together and participate in kickball together. Both families remain actively involved in DSAT events.
“Our whole family is here,” Michelle said on Sunday afternoon.
The Buddy Walk “brings everybody together,” said Ashley, describing the event as “a community of parents going through the same thing.”
Another Sapulpa family is also active in DSAT events. Sunday’s Buddy Walk was the 17th for Kim, Jon and Madison Cobb. Madison, now a striking teenager and a high school sophomore who just got her braces off, was just 11 months old when the family attended their first Buddy Walk, which was then held at Tulsa’s Whiteside Park.
Jon Cobb, a reserve police officer for Sapulpa, said that family support is very important in day-to-day life with a child who has special needs. Madison’s siblings, who were 24 and 19 when she was born, remain actively involved in the family unit, and were on hand Sunday to support their sister.
Kim Cobb credits Madison’s teachers for helping her reach her full potential. “Her teachers have been great.”
On the speaker’s platform on Sunday was the aforementioned Mayor G.T. Bynum, who gave opening remarks; Leslie Long, the upper school drama teacher at Holland Hall, and a member of the DSAT board of directors; Katy Hough, executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of Tulsa; Garrett Lee, president of the DSAT board of directors; and Megan Gold, Miss Oklahoma; McKenzie Deitz, Miss Tulsa; and Miss Aubrey Bartmann, Miss Tulsa Outstanding Teen.
Denise Hoey sang the National Anthem.