Our inspiring patients are the reason the CHOP Buddy Walk® was created and why we continue to strive to create breakthroughs for every child in our care. All donations benefit the Trisomy 21 Program at CHOP and the National Down Syndrome Society. Thank you!
Bear has a big personality for a 2-year-old. He goes out of his way to make friends with everyone he meets. He waves and babbles constantly, and though he’s only learned a few words so far, his laughter is contagious! Bear recently turned 2 and is now taking off developmentally: he’s walking, singing and knows all the hand gestures to his favorite songs “Baby Shark” and the “Wheels on the Bus.” Bear’s mom, Annie, recalls how nervous her family was when they first went to the Trisomy 21 Program and met with Director Mary Pipan, MD. Dr. Pipan reassured them that, with support, Bear could accomplish more than they could even imagine.
Dominic is a happy, friendly and social little boy. He’s curious about everything and loves to get involved in whatever his older siblings are doing. At only 18 months old, Dominic has already overcome a lot in his young life – including open heart surgery to repair a congenital heart defect – and receives early intervention services to help him reach his fullest potential. Developmentally, he’s crawling, starting to stand, and has begun to use sign language to express himself. Dominic loves coming to CHOP, waving and smiling at his team in the Trisomy 21 Program and enjoys how everyone makes him feel like a special toddler. “Our day is complete when Dominic smiles at us,” says his mom, Elizabeth.!
At 8 years old, Emily is no stranger to the Buddy Walk – she’s participated in her local event in South Plainfield, NJ, since she was born. However, this is her first year experiencing the CHOP Buddy Walk & Family Fun Day – live and in-person! Emily can be shy at first, but quickly opens to become a playful and imaginative child. She sees a variety of specialists at CHOP – all coordinated through the Trisomy 21 Program. “Dr. Downes and the specialists at the Trisomy 21 Program keep us informed of Emily’s progress and what we can do to help her continue to succeed,” says her mom, Megan. Emily loves to read and continues to make strides: she’s learning how to ride a two-wheel bike and is about to start second grade.
Asked to describe 16-year-old Luis’ personality, his mom had an enthusiastic one-word response: Fun! The laidback and handsome high school junior loves spending time with his family and friends. The Philadelphia native enjoys playing basketball and his Xbox , eating pizza, and hopes to attend college and fulfill his dream of becoming a music producer. Luis has a diverse list of hidden talents as well: He can rap and mimic many of the animated character voices in the Madagascar movies. He recently had the honor of throwing out the first pitch at the Philadelphia Phillies home opener. He’s happy to be an ambassador for the 2022 CHOP Buddy Walk to support other kids with Down syndrome.
When Roman was prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome, his family put their trust in God and, “Boy, has He delivered,” says mom Jennifer. Today, the active 3-year-old is a joyful toddler who smiles all the time and loves to fist pump anyone he meets. His favorite things are watching Peppa Pig, eating Tostitos and spending time with his parents and 10 siblings. “Whether we’re talking, laughing, playing or eating, just being together is such a blessing,” Jennifer adds. CHOP’s Trisomy 21 Clinic has served as a valuable resource to the family since they were referred when Roman was a year old. “Dr. Pipan, Tricia and the entire staff are rock stars and have brought us friendships and knowledge we would never have known otherwise.”
Like many preschoolers, 3-year-old Sky is a chaotic mix of emotions. She is caring, silly, and stubborn. She enjoys her personal space, but also loves being around people – especially her older brother, Jace. “Sky gives off an energy that can brighten anyone’s day,” says her mom, Kiara. The little girl began receiving early intervention services at home at a month old, and now attends preschool.Her parents sought out the Trisomy 21 Program at CHOP to educate themselves about Down syndrome and learn how to best support their daughter. “It’s definitely been a roller coaster ride, but I can honestly say, it’s been a great ride thus far,” Kiara says. “I can’t wait to discover what’s next for Sky.”
Vanessa is described by her family as outgoing, stubborn and a comedian. Despite multiple health challenges, Vanessa strives to continue learning and exploring the world around her. She recently graduated from 10th grade and looks forward to beginning her junior year of high school where she attends a mix of special education and general education classes. Over the years, Vanessa has had several health, social and educational issues that the Trisomy 21 Program has assisted her family in navigating. The Program has also supported her mom, Jennifer, so she could better support Vanessa. Mother and daughter hope by participating in CHOP Buddy Walk they can expand awareness of Down syndrome and boost inclusion in education and employment for individuals like Vanessa.