by Abby Braithwaite
Buddy Walk 2013 was a stormy one, with wild winds and rains and plenty that could have gone wrong. But thanks to an incredible amount of good will and creativity, it will go down in memory as a day of community in its truest and deepest sense. From the strength and grace of Buddy Walk Chair Angela Frome and vice-Chair Michelle Wallace to the helpfulness of Shawni Sullivan and her crew at the Rose Garden, from the hearty families who joined us to the friends who supported us from afar, from the incredible volunteers who went above and beyond to the sponsors and donors who made the day possible – everyone stepped up to make our annual day of pride and celebration an incredible success.
“With all the people who jumped in to help, it felt very seamless to change venues with only an hour and a half notice,” remarked Angela Frome. Not being much of a crowd person, I have sometimes been a little bit uncomfortable at Buddy Walk. But the past 7 years have been a journey into community, from our fi rst walk in 2006, when Adara was just 3 months old and we knew two people, to this year, when I barely saw the kid as she found her friends in the crowd, romped on the bouncy castle, and apprenticed with Olive Rootbeer, the veteran Buddy Walk balloon lady.
Little fills me up more than community, and I couldn't stop smiling from my vantage point at the resource table as I chatted with new families and old friends, and watched the crowd move through the Memorial Coliseum. I loved watching the teams distribute shirts to aunts and uncles, grandparents and cousins, classmates and neighbors. I loved watching first-time walkers and volunteers soak up the energy and vitality of the community. I loved seeing our veteran performers taking their places in the fl ow of the day, and watching the faces of young parents while speakers Eliza Schaff and Jacob Lattanzi inspired us all with dreams of full, rich futures for our children.
Angela Frome observed, “This is a day of great pride and celebration and a true labor of love.” We are grateful to everyone who participated as a donor, sponsor or walker. We want to send a special thanks to Don Antonucci of Regence, our Diamond level sponsor who supported us for the second year running and came to offer some inspiring words of welcome.
Thank you and congratulations to our top three fundraising teams: The Bullwinkles, Book Buddies & Pen Pals, and Archer’s Team.
In the end, Buddy Walk 2013 was, as NWDSA Executive Director Angela Jarvis-Holland says, the day we turned lemons into lemonade.