By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
SALTILLO – Richie Jones and his wife, Lori, participated in the Northeast Mississippi Down Syndrome Society Buddy Walk for the first time this year after their child had complications with down syndrome and died one month before his birth.
“We ended up having, I think, 50 people on Team Cash – family and friends and church member, who came out,” Jones said. “We wanted to support the society because people aren’t often aware the older a person gets, the chances of their child having down syndrome is higher. My wife is 42 and the doctor made us aware of it after the fact. I’ve talked to a lot of people who weren’t aware either.”
The sixth annual walk was held at the Saltillo City Park Saturday morning, attracting approximately 500 walkers and runners.
Northeast Mississippi Down Syndrome Society Executive Director Scott Knight said the Buddy Walk usually brings in $15,000 for the organization and has made them as much as $40,000.
The money goes to help the organization advocate for children with down syndrome in their schools, support families during emergency hospital trips, host educational workshops and maintain a resource library.
“One program we’re fixing to dive into that I’m extremely excited about is an iPad program,” Knight said. “It is a proven fact that iPads can help children with special needs and down syndrome with their speech and fine motor skills.”
Many of the more than 150 families served by the society don’t have or can’t afford iPads and Knight said they are going to start a fund to equip as many of the families as possible with the development tool.
Knight said he and his wife helped start the society six years ago.