Approximately 400,000 Americans have Down syndrome and about 6,000 babies with Down syndrome are born in the United States each year. In recognition of October being National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, the East Texas Down Syndrome Group (ETDSG), in affiliation with the National Down Syndrome Society, will host the 14th Annual Buddy Walk of East Texas on Saturday, October 10, at The ROC at First Baptist Church in Longview, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The one-mile walk and family-fun day is an opportunity to promote the acceptance and inclusion of all people with Down syndrome. The walk will be followed by a hot dog lunch.
As the mother of a child with Down syndrome, a member of the East Texas Down Syndrome Group (ETDSG), and the t-shirt chair on the 14th Annual Buddy Walk of East Texas committee, Tara McHam knows it’s important to raise awareness for those diagnosed with Down syndrome.
“Although these individuals have the Down syndrome diagnosis, they do not let it define their lives, and that’s what ETDSG and The Buddy Walk of East Texas is all about,” Mrs. McHam said. “Our goal is to educate the world on what each of these people can and will do to contribute to our community.”
Outside of her dedicated service to ETDSG, Mrs. McHam is the co-founder of Team Inspire, a cheerleading team composed of all special “ability” children, ages five to adult. Team Inspire is in its third year, and performs at events throughout the year including the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Cheer Competition and local sporting events.
“My volunteer philosophy is to be of service to others while also teaching them to dream, believe, and to be inspired,” she said.
Born in Sweetwater, Texas, Mrs. McHam has resided in our community for 21 years. She and her husband, Jeremy, have been married for seven years and are the parents of four daughters, Addison, 7, Karter, 5, Libbie, 4, and Piper, 2. Mrs. McHam is a graduate of Winona High School in Winona, Texas. She earned her bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at Tyler.
“East Texas is a community that feels like family to me. There’s always an abundance of willing people on which I can count to volunteer for these children,” Mrs. McHam said. “Some people may see them as children with disabilities, but as a mother of a daughter with Down syndrome, I know these children truly do not have handicaps. They have special abilities to brighten our world and conquer our world, and they use these abilities in extraordinary ways.”
For more information about the 14th Annual Buddy Walk of East Texas, please visit www.etdsg.org.