By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal
SALTILLO – Peyton Phillips smiled uncontrollably as he and his family walked around Saltillo Park on Saturday.
Even though he is only 2 years old, little Peyton knows a good time when he sees it. Peyton and his mom Brittany and dozens of other parents participated in the fifth annual Saltillo Buddy Walk hosted by the Northeast Mississippi Down Syndrome Society. Peyton has Down syndrome, and a smile like his from another Peyton is what started Saturday’s event five years ago.
Scott Knight, co-founder and executive director of NMDSS, started the event with his wife when their son, Peyton Knight, was diagnosed with the disorder five years ago.
“Peyton is the inspiration for all of this,” he said. “We wanted people to understand Down syndrome and to know that our kids were just the same as any others. Our organization educates people and helps to make sure our kids get every opportunity in life that anyone else does.”
Saturday was a fun day in the park where parents and children could fellowship with one another and gain some awareness about Down syndrome. There were bouncies for the children, a live band and plenty of games to play.
Michael Cayson’s 9-year-old son Alvin also has Down syndrome. Despite his disorder, Cayson said Alvin can get out there and have fun with the best of them.
“Man, he loves to get out there and play with the other kids,” Cayson said. “You put a soccer ball out there and he will kick it all day long. I’m glad this organization puts on this event and helps families like mine.”
The NMDSS uses money raised from various fundraisers to help families who have children with Down syndrome who are in the hospital. But most of all, Knight said they are a constant support group.
“We are all in this together, so we lean on one another a lot,” he said.