Approximately 400,000 Americans have Down syndrome and some 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 Eleventh Annual Buddy Walk of East Texas on Saturday, October 13, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Teague Park in Longview. The one-mile walk and family-fun day is an opportunity to increase awareness and acceptance of all people with Down syndrome. The day will include a hot dog lunch, music, a space jump and climbing wall, clowns, pumpkin painting, face painting, and more.
As a member of the board of directors for ETDSG, a member of the Buddy Walk committee, and as a mother of a child with Down syndrome, Kelly Bearden Bunger, knows it is important for those with Down syndrome and families of Down syndrome children to come together to share their accomplishments and find support.
“It’s wonderful to be surrounded by families facing the same challenges,” Mrs. Bunger said. “When Macey was an infant it was inspiring to meet older children with Down syndrome, and now, we’re able to encourage those with younger children. The Buddy Walk is a great opportunity for us to come together, but it’s also an important opportunity for the community to understand that these wonderful people are more like us than they are different.”
Through her service to ETDSG, Mrs. Bunger also helps organize events in Tyler such as play dates and bowling parties that allow the children to have fun and for the grown-ups to visit. She is an active member of Special Blessings, a group for families with special needs children.
“The Bible says to serve one another with love, and although I can’t say yes to everything, when God puts something on my heart, I jump in and get involved,” Mrs. Bunger said “I’m shy, so I’m not always in my comfort zone, but each time I volunteer, I am blessed.”
Born in Sherman, Texas, Mrs. Bunger spent her childhood in Tyler, and moved back to our community four years ago. She and her husband, Travis, have been married for 12 years and are the parents of Macey, 10, Lily, 8, and Carsen Elaine, 5. Mrs. Bunger is a graduate of Robert E. Lee High School and earned her bachelor of business administration degree from The University of Texas at Austin. The Bungers are members of First Baptist Church of Bullard where Mrs. Bunger serves as the secretary for AWANA Sparks, a discipleship program for children.
“Through my volunteer work with ETDSG, I am bringing activities and relationships to those in the Tyler area that need support. Together, we can share, help, and encourage each other while building amazing friendships along the way,” Mrs. Bunger said.
For more information about the Buddy Walk of East Texas, please visit www.etdsg.org.