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What it "Means" to Walk - DSAWM W.I.W. Series - Part #5

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What It “Means” to Walk – By Lois Roelse

The word “walk” is defined by Merrium-Webster Dictionary as “to move along on foot; to make headway; to pursue a course of action or way of life; to conduct oneself.”  These definitions all relate to the verb, walk as a noun is defined as “a route regularly traversed by a person in the performance of a particular activity.”

As I contemplate why I participate in our Buddy Walk each year, I am struck by the thought that we are doing more than just gathering on a crisp Saturday morning in October.  We are participating in all these definitions of WALK:

Let’s start with the most obvious definition:  
A route regularly traversed by a person in the performance of a particular activity:  This is what we do…..we gather to show the world (or at least Grand Rapids and vicinity) that we are a family of believers….believers in what our children/siblings/friends with Down syndrome can do/be/are.  Simple!

Here are the more esoteric definitions:
To move along on foot:  Most kids learn to walk between 8-18 months.  My Ruthie was almost 29 months old; other children with Down syndrome learn earlier than 29 months, some later.  When Ruthie hit that “milestone” of walking on her own, I understood the enormously sweet joy of accomplishment.

To make headway:  For each challenge that comes with having a child with Down syndrome, comes the need to keep looking forward, being tenacious in gaining ground on this field we call parenthood.  For each two steps forward is the one (and sometimes two) step back but eventually we do (Ruthie and I, together) make headway.

To pursue a course of action or way of life:  From the day I was made aware that Ruthie would be a child with DS, my course of action/way of life changed.  For all of us who are granted this responsibility (a blessing and curse simultaneously) our lives changed forever.  The challenge to this way of life is to remain positive, thankful and supportive of ourselves and others who are on this journey.

To conduct oneself:  I have a personal goal to be approachable and knowledgeable about Ruthie specifically and about Down syndrome generally.  It is amazing how many opportunities I get to change people’s perspective and prejudice about individuals with Down syndrome.  How I conduct myself in many settings (work, church, Ruthie’s school, etc.) says volumes about who I am as Ruthie’s Mom and also as a proponent of individuals of Down syndrome.

The annual Buddy Walk is a celebration of who we are….. a family who, though thick and thin, frustration and success, tears and laughter can share the walk we have inherited together.


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