Our Champions

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!


A sweet and sassy 5-year-old, Adira recently celebrated her first dance recital and is looking forward to starting kindergarten this fall. Adira loves to dance, enjoys live music, swimming, dress-up, Legos and spending time with her family – especially her big brother, Adom, 10. When Adira was diagnosed with Down syndrome before birth, her family was encouraged to seek support from CHOP’s Trisomy 21 Program. In the past few years, Adira has grown by leaps and bounds – delivering smiles along the way. She loves visiting Dr. Alison Downes, and her physical and occupational therapists at CHOP. Adira’s mom, Lucy, and dad, Belinsky, said the family is excited to join CHOP Buddy Walk to “raise awareness and share the joy that Adira gives us each day.”


You’ve heard about the Energizer Bunny? Meet the energizer Easton! This 7-year-old daredevil is in constant motion. He loves almost all sports and outdoor activities – from soccer to basketball, baseball, swimming, biking and skateboarding, and riding his 4 wheeler! And he enjoys bringing his siblings – 9-year-old Talon (who also has Down syndrome) and 11-year-old Peyton – along for the ride! Easton has had his share of medical challenges through the years, but his infectious enthusiasm and indomitable spirit keep him moving forward. “The sky is the limit for this little guy,” says his mom, Tina. “We want him to have as much independence as possible. He will no doubt continue to move mountains and defy the odds.”


Hope is a cheerful, funny and happy 9-year-old who loves dressing up, loves the pool, meeting babies and is always willing to lend a hand. When Hope was 3, her family brought her to CHOP’s Trisomy 21 Program for support, guidance and continued health monitoring. She’s grown so much more independent! Hope recently celebrated her First Holy Communion surrounded by her family and friends. The sassy and hard-working girl loves to play. A perfect day would include spending time at the beach and in the ocean then on the boardwalk playing games, listen to music and dancing! Hope loves to dance and one day hopes to make it her career.


Two-year-old Jadon is a friendly and assertive toddler who loves to laugh. He enjoys story time with mom and afternoon walks with his dad. Jadon’s mom contacted CHOP’s Trisomy 21 Program for help in accessing the many support and learning services he will need as he grows. Today, one of Jadon’s favorite activities is visiting CHOP so he can “high-five” as many people as possible in one day! Jadon is learning how to climb stairs and is enjoying exploring his expanded world. His family is supporting the 2023 CHOP Buddy Walk to build a community of peers and supporters who can help Jadon achieve his fullest potential.


At almost a year old, John (or Johnny as he’s called) is a happy, easy-going baby who loves spending time with his family – especially his siblings, Charlie, 7, and Emma, 4. Thanks to his family, Johnny smiles a lot, loves hugs, and is fascinated by both baseball and the “Frozen” soundtrack. Before he was born, Johnny’s family learned he would have Down syndrome and contacted CHOP’s Trisomy 21 Program for support. The staff educated and reassured them, giving them hope for a bright future for their son. Today, Johnny’s family dotes on him – he’s the center of their world – and he loves the attention! He receives PT and OT, is learning how to sit up unassisted and knows some sign language. His favorite word is “eat!”


Kennedy, 2, is fiercely independent and vivaciously outgoing. She loves nothing more than making people laugh and is always willing to offer a hug. Kennedy recently mastered walking and crouching and is now babbling up a storm! Her pediatrician encouraged her family to connect with CHOP’s Trisomy 21 Program to ensure Kennedy was getting all the support she needed to grow and thrive. They are excited to participate in the CHOP Buddy Walk to raise awareness and acceptance of Down syndrome; as well as give back to the program that’s helped them so much. “Kennedy is the brightest light in our life,” says her mom, Jenna. “She has taught us that the road less traveled is truly the most rewarding and one filled with more love than we could have ever expected.”


Seventeen-month-old Maya is a giggly and opinioned little girl who’s super excited to become a big sister this fall. She recently started gesturing with her favorite songs, loves to show people her belly, and is a nimble (and incredibly fast) crawler. Her red hair and dimples make her a center of attention – and she loves it! She also enjoys playing on the swings at the playground and having animated discussions with her reflection in the mirror. Maya’s family is taking part in CHOP Buddy Walk for all the reasons families often share – to raise awareness, build community and raise funds – but also so Maya can look back with pride at how active she was with the Down syndrome community.


Like many teenagers, Mia, 14, is a music connoisseur. But unlike many, this girl can sing! As a talented soprano in regional chorus and school concert chorale, Mia has taken part in multiple community theater programs. One day, she hopes to sing the national anthem, and other of her wonderful song renditions, before a large audience and share her love of music (and fashion) with future generations. This funny and loving teen has been a patient at CHOP’s Trisomy 21 Program since 2010 when her family moved to Pennsylvania. CHOP’s program has helped Mia find her voice, to advocate for herself and other underrepresented students. She recently became a youth advocate for student-led IEP meetings at her school. A long-time Buddy Walk participant, she is walking to raise awareness, support research and empower other kids with Down syndrome.


Rhyanne, 2½, a keen observer, always watching what her older sisters, parents and friends are doing before jumping into the mix. By the age of 2, Rhyanne knew more than 50 words in sign language … and has learned so many more in the months since! She is now beginning to also use words to express herself and responds to both English and Arabic. Rhyanne began treatment with CHOP’s Trisomy 21 Program about two years ago after her family moved to the area. “Our favorite thing about CHOP is how friendly, informative, optimistic, and thorough everyone is,” says her mom, Mariam. “Sometimes it’s easy to get stuck on what we are still working on … but there is much more to celebrate. Rhyanne has progressed so much, and we are all excited to see what she does next.”


It takes a little time to draw Talon, 9, out of his shell. But, once Talon feels comfortable, he transforms into a happy, go-lucky boy who enjoys having fun, playing with his siblings, and swimming at the family’s beach club. He enjoys spending time with his brother Easton, 7, (who also has Down syndrome) and their sister, Peyton, 11. Talon enjoys laid-back activities such as coloring, puzzles and movies, but is learning to do more – like how to ride a bike. His latest accomplishment has been joining the Promenade Beach Club swim team. Talon competes twice a week at local meets and has medaled many times already. Talon has been a Trisomy 21 Program patient since birth, and his family is excited to support the program at CHOP Buddy Walk. “We want to see Talon continue to learn and grow,” says Tina, his mom. “Having as much independence as possible is a big goal for us.”


Trey, 6, is outgoing, funny and loud! No matter if Trey is at home with his large, extended family or at school with friends and classmates, many refer to him as the “mayor” because he’ll talk to anyone and share his thoughts on anything. The gregarious boy is looking forward to starting first grade … but first there’s summer and going to the beach where he enjoys going down to his family’s camper, visiting the boardwalk, going on rides, and eating plenty of curly fries – with a lot of ketchup! “We want Trey to live life to the fullest and achieve every possible milestone,” says Tony and Jeanne, his parents. Trey’s family never lets his Down syndrome diagnosis limit or stop him from what he can do – although some tasks may take longer – they are committed to working with him to do anything he sets his mind to.


When Violet’s family learned their child had Down syndrome, they immediately connected with CHOP’s Trisomy 21 Program to give their daughter “every advantage we could and use every resource at our disposal,” says her mom, Emily. Violet is now 3 and the perfect blend of sweet, sass and spunk! She’s working on speaking sentences, dressing herself, running, jumping and fine-motor skills like cutting with scissors. She can now spell her name, say the alphabet and count to 20. Along with academic pursuits, Violet recently participated in her first dance recital, completed her second year of swim lessons and is excited to start pre-Kindergarten in the fall. Her family is thrilled to participate in the CHOP Buddy Walk® to thank CHOP for all the support, aid and encouragement they’ve received over the years.

2022 Champions


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.