DSACC event hopes to raise awareness of value of down syndrome individuals

Volunteers Alex Andrade (right) Alyssa Stevens (left) (Photo Destiny De La Cruz, Clovis Roundup)

October 23, 2023 – October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, which makes it the perfect month for the Down Syndrome Association of Central California’s (DSACC) annual Step Up for Down Syndrome event.

DSACC was founded by five families from the Central Valley, and began with a meeting around a kitchen table in June of 1999.

Since the foundation for DSACC was established all those years ago, they have grown significantly. They now help nearly 1000 individuals. 

Their event, Step Up for Down Syndrome, started over 20 years ago as the “Buddy Walk”, which is now a nationally copyrighted walk. 

Executive Director Jennifer Whiting said that the goal of the walk and the event itself is to,
raise awareness of the values, abilities, and joy [our down syndrome individuals] bring to the community.”

This year’s event had 600 participants, about 200 of which have Down Syndrome. DSACC was able to fill the rodeo ground event area with members of our community.

There were many organizations present, as well as small businesses run by people with Down Syndrome, a few local food options, and more. 

Some of the organizations and businesses included: Inclusion Learning Center (Inclusive child care center), Friends Early Intervention (by Fresno County Superintendent of Schools), 2 Cool Dudes (Cookies & More), Scentered Ca (products made from lavender grown in the exact center of California), Central Valley Regional Center (CVRC), Empower (Speech therapy & life skills center),

Central California Parent magazine, Fresno State’s Kremen Wayfinders (2-year non-degree independent living certificate program), Exceptional Parents Unlimited (EPU, Parent education & support), Kiwanis Aktion Club, Limitless Disability Ministry (NorthPointe Community Church), and Panda Fresh Farms.

Whiting said that the purpose of Step Up for Down Syndrome was “not only raising awareness, but a great opportunity for families to connect to each other and to local resources and to the community at large.”

Destiny De La Cruz is a budding journalist with a passion for photojournalism. As a Fresno State alumni, she earned a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication & Journalism, the Film & Media Arts option with a minor in Anthropology. She has an interest in all things film, food, literature & outdoors.