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.
- 2021 Champions
Charlotte’s medical journey began before she was even born. She needed heart surgery shortly after birth and continues to see multiple CHOP specialists, all coordinated through the Trisomy 21 Program. Now an outgoing 3-year-old, Charlotte loves music and making lots of new friends at preschool! Charlotte is motivated, determined and loves her big brother, Geno. “The Trisomy 21 Program has been amazing in guiding us with her learning and development,” says Charlotte’s mom. “Everyone is so wonderful with the kids and treats us like family.”
Gigi, a sassy 15-year-old, loves to dance and spend time with her mom, Tracy. Tracy turned to CHOP’s Trisomy 21 Program for support dealing with Gigi’s secondary diagnosis: Down Syndrome Disintegrative Disorder. Now, the pair looks forward to special coffee dates after each clinic visit. New to the CHOP Buddy Walk®, the family can’t wait to join the fun at this year’s event and meet other teens with Down syndrome!
K’dyn is a big fan of his siblings: twin brother Aidyn and big sister Peyan. Although the 1-year-old has many health challenges — including a heart defect that will require surgery in the near future — he’s a happy baby, who loves playing with his toys and being tickled! With the help of the Trisomy 21 Program, he’s making big developmental strides: recently crawling, standing and clapping! His family participated in last year’s virtual event and can’t wait to join CHOP Buddy Walk® in person this year!
Five-year-old Kristina is a joyful and determined little girl who loves to meet new people and play with her older brothers, Rowan and Carson. Kristina loves the movie Moana, strawberry ice cream and the Pittsburgh Steelers. She also enjoys dancing, playing with her dolls, swimming in the pool and reading books. Her family turned to CHOP’s Trisomy 21 Program for guidance at the recommendation of Kristina’s pediatrician. The active and talkative youngster is excited to start kindergarten this fall.
Seven-year-old Mateo is no stranger to Buddy Walk® — his family has participated in the national event annually since 2016. This year, they’ll walk for CHOP’s Trisomy 21 Program, where Mateo’s been a patient since he was a baby. Though he’s mostly nonverbal, Mateo is meeting many milestones, including recognizing sight words and reading his first book! Says his mom, Tanita, “We walk to celebrate our son and to bring awareness to the Down syndrome community.”
Nine-year-old Mohamed likes to be the center of attention, and he loves to make people laugh. “Whenever he sees someone down, he wants to brighten their day,” says his big sister, Amira. This joyful little boy joined the Trisomy 21 Program at CHOP after a suggestion from a family friend, whose child also has Down syndrome. Mohamed loves clinic visits, where he can see the friendly staff and play with all the fun toys!
Navy comes from a big family — including six older siblings! His parents are very active in supporting CHOP, which began when their oldest daughter was diagnosed with cancer. The family is participating in CHOP Buddy Walk® because “we want the kids to understand there’s more to life than what we give them,” says Navy’s mom. Although 15-month-old Navy needed surgery shortly after birth to correct duodenal atresia, he’s grown by leaps and bounds with the help of the Trisomy 21 Program. He can crawl, eat solid foods and even say a few words!
- 2020 Champions
The first three months of Abby’s life were spent in CHOP’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Now almost 2, Abby is a healthy, energetic toddler who loves reading, Sesame Street and her rocking horse, “Thunder.” Abby came to the Trisomy 21 clinic as a baby. She sees multiple CHOP specialists, and through physical, occupational and speech therapy, continues to develop — she already knows 25 signs! Last year, Abby’s CHOP Buddy Walk® team raised almost $5,000 for the Trisomy 21 Program. With the program’s support, Abby’s parents hope she’ll achieve her future dreams, have a fulfilling job and help her community see the benefits of inclusion.
Known to his family as “the mayor,” 4-year-old Bryant is funny and kind and loves being the center of attention! He also loves swimming and music. When he’s finished strumming his toy guitar, Bryant will make sure to bow and wait for applause. Bryant’s best friend is his older brother; “brother” was one of his first words. Since then, he’s learned many more words and loves talking to his family. When Bryant first visited the Trisomy 21 Program, the program’s director told his parents that with support, Bryant could accomplish all his future goals. “We knew we were in the right place,” says Bryant’s mom.
Five-year-old Derek is silly, empathetic and determined. He loves kindergarten and playing with his new friends. Derek’s been a patient of the Trisomy 21 Program since he was 6 months old, and continues to see specialists in developmental pediatrics, gastroenterology, hematology and ear, nose and throat. “We are so lucky to have this amazing program in our backyard,” Derek’s mom says. Even though the CHOP Buddy Walk® is virtual this year, his mom says, “We wouldn’t miss celebrating Derek and all of his amazing friends. Like our team name says, we’re ‘doing it for Derek’!”
If you watched Josh, 9, play basketball, you’d never know he entered the world at only three pounds. This Harlem Globetrotters fan is now often found practicing his b-ball skills or playing tag with his friends — as long he gets to be “it”! Josh sees multiple CHOP specialists, all coordinated through the Trisomy 21 Program. When he was diagnosed with celiac disease and apraxia — a speech disorder — his mom was grateful that the Trisomy 21 Program was there to help Josh meet these challenges head on. “There is no greater relief as a parent than knowing a trained team is making sure your child’s needs will never go overlooked,” she says.
Sassy, determined and empathetic, 3-year-old Lila is a big fan of the Trisomy 21 Program — she’s always ready with a fist-bump for her favorite staff members. Lila’s come a long way since she took her first steps in the clinic hallway. Now she can run and jump and even takes gymnastics! When she’s not playing with her older siblings, she’s caring for her dolls or dancing to her favorite Disney movie. Lila takes speech therapy and communicates through verbal and sign language. Her family is grateful for the support of the Trisomy 21 Program. “They take the time to know her,” says Lila’s mom. “They want the best for her.”
Paxtyn is a spitfire of energy; always dancing, singing and talking! Some of her self-created routines have been broadcast on YouTube, which 3-year-old Paxtyn loves to watch. The preschooler loves to help her older sisters Payton, 13, and Paige, 12, work on projects; she knows about 80 words in sign language; and recently learned how to walk up steps on her own. Since the family’s first visit to the Trisomy 21 Program at CHOP, “we fell in love with Dr. Downes and all the staff,” her mom says. “Paxtyn gets very excited when we tell her she has an appointment.”
Ravi, 14, enjoys swimming, basketball, dancing and music — so much so that he dreams of one day being cast on The Voice Kids! He’s also a big eater and loves cooking. In fact, Ravi recently learned how to crack an egg by himself! Milestones like this are celebrated by Ravi, his family and his team at the Trisomy 21 Program, which has been instrumental in helping Ravi achieve his goals. This fall, he’s looking forward to high school, where he’ll attend the same school as his older brother. Ravi’s positivity was awarded in eighth grade when he received the principal’s Lighthouse Award, which goes to a student that serves as a “beacon of light,” spreading positivity throughout the school.
- 2019 Champions
At 2½ years old, Audrey loves splashing in water, petting her cat, watching Sesame Street and eating goldfish crackers.
When Brody was born, his parents were shocked to learn he had Down syndrome. Today, they’ve learned to embrace the unexpected with their 12-year-old son.
For 15-year-old Eve, every day is a new adventure and she can’t wait to see what’s next: fashion, sports or travel.
Grace is a happy, friendly 2-year-old who loves to wave and smile at strangers. She also loves music, balls and her baby dolls.
For 4-year-old Gregory, the CHOP Buddy Walk® is like his special holiday, when he sees all his favorite people and enjoys his favorite activities.
Jasmin has come a long way since her first CHOP Buddy Walk® in 2004. Today, the 16-year-old is a 10th grader who loves dance, Special Olympics and her family.
After an unexpected diagnosis of Down syndrome, Jeremiah’s parents celebrate each significant milestone in their 16-month-old’s life with a theme party.
Kailani, 9, can be described many ways: outgoing, friendly, fearless. But the word she likes best is “amazing” because it reminds her of a contest she won.
Kendall, 2, is thriving with Down syndrome and serves as an inspiration for new parents learning to embrace their child’s diagnosis.
At 11 years old, Neva is confident and full of joy. The trailblazing preteen is ready for anything with the support of her close-knit family.
- 2018 Champions
First grade was a turning point for 7-year-old Aadi — and the start of new milestones in his development.
Breakthroughs happen every day for 1-year-old Aidan and his family can’t wait to see what he discovers next.
Not much can contain the whirlwind known as Emilio. At 6½ years old, he’s the de-facto mayor at his school: Everyone knows his name.
26-year-old Eric loves swimming, playing basketball and working in the store he owns with his mom.
At 21-months-old, Hazel is a bright, happy baby who loves to smile, wave and meet new people.
A devoted sports fan, 15-year-old Lily will lead a team of her own this fall at the CHOP Buddy Walk®.
A hobby in photography has grown into a small business for 22-year-old Nate, who hopes to one day get an apartment of his own.
The future is bright for 18-month-old Regan. She loves her baby doll, her dog Walter, and making people laugh.
Rosie, 10, was born to be a star. With the support of her family and friends, she’s making a name for herself at school and in the community.
- 2017 Champions
A keen negotiator with a kind heart, 10-year-old Ava lives her life with vigor as she enjoys her favorite things.
As a high-energy 4-year-old, Celia is conquering the world one obstacle at a time.
With a magnetic personality, 6-year-old Evan makes friends easily and loves school.
With her kind soul and gentle spirit, 9-year-old Giulianna wants to change the world.
Kara, 12, was the first student with Down syndrome to be “mainstreamed” in Upper Darby School District.
Since starting high school, 18-year-old Kate has flourished academically and socially.
Michael, 20, is friendly and outgoing – and has a very bright future.
After a slow start, 5-year-old Porter is on his way to his next adventure.
No matter the obstacle, 24-year-old Stephanie is ready to meet the challenge.
Steven, 19, is determined to make his dream of college come true.
Teddy’s enthusiasm is infectious – whether he’s doing a school project, playing piano or just making people smile.