Why We Walk

Children born with Down syndrome, also known as trisomy 21, often face an uncertain future. This common chromosomal abnormality, which affects about 6,000 babies born each year in the United States and more than 350,000 individuals, puts children at greater risk for chronic and life-threatening medical conditions. These individuals often have other medical conditions such as congenital heart disease, epilepsy, spine and bone deformities; neurological, gastrointestinal and endocrine disorders; as well as learning and developmental disabilities.

At Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), patients are cared for by our Trisomy 21 Program, an innovative, multidisciplinary program that began in 2002 to provide and coordinate care for children with this complex disorder. Our program is unique in that we care for patients with Down syndrome throughout their lives — not just during childhood. Our developmental pediatricians, therapists and researchers have made great strides expanding treatment and improving outcomes for these individuals. With the CHOP Buddy Walk® being the sole fundraiser or the Trisomy 21 Program, more funding is needed to continue our work.

Exceptional Patient Care and Treatment

CHOP’s Trisomy 21 Program provides ongoing care, education and services to more than 2,000 individuals with Down syndrome and their families each year. Our patients come from diverse racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, and come to CHOP from near and far – even other countries. Our Program would not exist as it does today without the tremendous support of the CHOP Buddy Walk® & Family Fun Day. Now in its 22nd year, the CHOP Buddy Walk® has raised more than $4.4 million for Down syndrome research and services at CHOP.

Breakthrough Research

Researchers and clinicians at CHOP are working every day to improve the lifelong health and well-being of individuals with Down syndrome. Our team is developing new assessment tools to help identify medical and developmental issues earlier and intervene sooner; providing education for families, medical providers and community members about Down syndrome and its effects through annual conferences, support groups and medical meetings; and creating customized transition to adulthood programs for individuals with Down syndrome who have chronic or ongoing medical issues.

“Your support of the Trisomy 21 program helps us achieve our goal of promoting optimal health, growth and development so that individuals with Down syndrome can reach their potential and become valued members of their communities well into the future. Involving your family and friends in this endeavor through the CHOP Buddy Walk spreads awareness that children and adults with Down syndrome have the capacity to contribute to their community if learning is supported and opportunities to do so are available.”

Mary Pipan, MD, Director of the Trisomy 21 Program

2023 CHOP Buddy Walk Committee


Julie Gerhart-Rothholz & Mitch Rothholz

Committee Members

  • Jimmy Coughlin
  • Kelly Coughlin
  • Jacqui DiDomenico
  • Erica DiVario
  • Caitlin Haas
  • Heather Healey
  • Pebbles Jackson
  • Amanda Jacobs
  • Anne Kochera
  • Christa Lynch
  • Rosemary McKenna
  • Kristy Moffett
  • Karen Keser Onyshczak
  • Kelly Pasquarella
  • Janice Radway
  • Cynthia Scott
  • Tereze Sinno
  • Melissa Stauffer
  • Kim Stranix
  • Dan Szostek
  • Vicki Szostek
  • Danielle Thompson
  • Kimberly Touch Rinaldi
  • Kathy Trainor
  • Michelle Viall
  • Nicole Wells
  • Bernadette Wheeler
  • Kevin Yu