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Buddy Walk provides awareness of Down Syndrome

FARMINGTON — Tori Gray was shocked and a little scared when her son was diagnosed with Down Syndrome.

Kyle was only four and a half months old when Tori and her husband first heard it was possible the boy had the condition. They went into denial.

When Kyle was officially diagnosed two weeks later, they didn’t know what to do. They did a lot of research.

Then a friend told Tori they were privileged because Kyle was a gift from God and they were chosen to be his parents.

Tori believes Kyle, now 2, is a good model of “how we all should live life.” She said he is always happy and loving. He is the light of her family’s life.

Tori said Kyle is doing very well and is not that far behind other children his age. He began walking at 16 months and is currently potty training. He loves to dance and currently uses sign language to communicate.

“I don’t think people realize how much (children with Down Syndrome) can actually do,” she said.

Tori and her son attended the second annual Mineral Area Down Syndrome Association Buddy Walk. The walk and picnic were held Saturday at Weber Road and Karsch Boulevard in Farmington.

Glen LaChance estimated six families affected by Down Syndrome and their extended families and friends attended the event. He said they had a pretty good turnout.

“I think we have more than last year,” he said.

LaChance’s daughter, Aubrie, 7, has a mild form of Down Syndrome. He said there are several different types of Down Syndrome.

Aubrie communicates through both sign language and talking. She had fun Saturday, going from activity to activity, from tossing a ball with friends to doing the Chicken Dance. She also led everyone in the walk. It was a short walk that went from Liberty Tax Service to the area of Lowes and back.

There was pizza provided by Casey’s, as well as other snacks. Karaoke and a DJ service were provided by Ken Tomlinson. Wolf Creek Fire Department brought a fire truck for children to see.

Brianna Shelton, Aubrie’s aunt and a speech pathologist at Central, said the walk is held to raise awareness and money to send parents to the Greater St. Louis Down Syndrome Association annual conference. Last year, they were able to send five families.

This year, they also hope to send some children to the Wonderland Camp, a camp for disabled children. If they raise enough money, some will be given to Happy Feet of Fredericktown to help build a playground for the disabled.

She said any families interested in the Down Syndrome group should call Glen at 573-701-3860 or e-mail the group at

The group’s goal is to give support to families of children, especially those newly diagnosed.

Teresa Ressel is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 179 or at

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