Brenda Bargmann is 43, a second-degree black belt and a public speaker. She also has Down syndrome.
Bargmann, along with thousands of others, laced up walking shoes Saturday for the fourth-annual Buddywalk organized by Sharing Down Syndrome AZ at Riverview Park in Mesa.
Gina Johnson, founder of the organization, and Theresa Gloria-Cervantes coordinated this year’s milelong walk along with festivities that included live entertainment, a silent auction and food.
"Today is all about the children," Johnson said. "These are the most amazing people in the world."
Sharing Down Syndrome AZ is a nonprofit parent organization funded by donations and grants.
The organization started 12 years ago, with five families meeting in Johnson’s living room. David, Johnson’s son, had been born with Down syndrome.
"I didn’t know what to do," Johnson said. "We didn’t hear any positive information."
She decided that there needed to be a resource for families of children with the disability.
"I didn’t want another mother or another dad to feel like I felt," Johnson said.
Rachel Hanzuck walked with her son, Patrick, and carried a poster with her son’s picture. Patrick, 5 months old, also was born with Down syndrome.
Hanzuck said she was worried when Patrick was diagnosed. But now, she said, "I think, ‘How could we ever have been sad?’ "
The goals of the walk, Johnson said, were to increase awareness of the needs of children with Down syndrome, and to raise funds for the organization.