DANIEL ISLAND, S.C. (WCBD) – Hundreds of supporters from across the region came to Etiwan Park on Daniel Island Sunday afternoon for the Lowcountry Buddy Walk to raise funds for the Down Syndrome Association of the Lowcountry and the National Down Syndrome Society.

The Lowcountry community is walking for a cause.

“Today is our Lowcountry Buddy Walk,” Erica Chiovarou, president of the Down Syndrome Association of the Lowcountry, said. “It is our biggest fundraiser of the year. It funds all the programming that we do throughout the year.”

The Down Syndrome Association of the Lowcountry hosted Sunday’s event with the help of local schools, businesses and families.

“Cheerleaders and marching band and neighbors and friends and family,” Chiovarou said, “all support and cheer-on our members with Down syndrome.”

One of the schools supporting this effort is Bishop England High School.

Kristen Common (Options Program Director, Bishop England High School) :09

“They have come together and supported the organization with a $1,000 donation,” Bishop England educator Kristen Common said.

The high’s school’s Band of Buddies Club pairs students with Down Syndrome with student mentors so they can enjoy social activities together.

“It’s really cool to be a part of this club,” Band of Buddies mentor Summer Del Valle said. “It’s super fun. I’ve made so many great friends from it, like Emma. It’s really cool because we get to do more than just club events. Emma does cheer with me.”

The fundraising is important, but they say the club has allowed them to form a special bond with their peers.

“It’s really fun to be out here with people who are so great,” Band of Buddies mentor Thomas Highfield said. “They’re so happy all the time and they’re just loving. It’s great to be able to spend time with them and get close to them. It makes you feel really good.”

The funds raised during Sunday’s one-mile walk will help support more than 200 families affected by Down syndrome across the Lowcountry.

“It goes to college scholarships for our members,” Chiovarou said, “it goes to new parent gifts for families that have a new diagnosis of a family member with Down syndrome, it goes toward workshops and programming. We did a swim camp this summer, so all of this money stays right here and goes right back into our families.”

Organizers say this year’s Lowcountry Buddy Walk was a success and they want next year’s event to be even bigger.