ELGIN, Ariz. (KGUN) — A Southern Arizona boy with Down syndrome will soon have his face featured among the bright lights of New York City.
Six-year-old Clayton Dimerling of Elgin will have his photo included in a one-hour video played on two Jumbotron screens in Times Square on September18.
The video will kick off New York’s ‘Buddy Walk,’ a major event for Down syndrome awareness and fundraising. The National Down Syndrome Society created the event in 1995 to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome. It now takes place in cities across the country.
The Southern Arizona Network for Down Syndrome (SANDS) sent out a notice this summer that organizers were accepting photos for the New York ‘Buddy Walk’ video.
“So I thought, ‘Well, we’ll go ahead and submit Clayton’s photo and just see what happens,” Clayton’s mother Charlene said.
With travel complicated by the pandemic, the Dimerling family won’t be traveling to New York to see the video in person, but they will be watching via a live stream. They have attended the Tucson ‘Buddy Walk’ since 2015, the year Clayton was born.
“Honestly before Clayton was born, I had no exposure personally to anybody with Down syndrome,” Charlene said. “So I didn’t really know what it was going to be like…So, I think a lot of people are a little apprehensive of like approaching someone with Down syndrome or not knowing how to react.”
Charlene wants to break down the invisible barriers that people with Down syndrome can face.
“There’s so many kids and young people with Down syndrome that are starting to run their own businesses,” she said. “Contributing to society and just making things better… They’re not so scary. They’re people, too, and they have a lot to offer.”
The New York Buddy Walk kick off will be live-streamed on the NDSS Facebook Page from 6:30-7:30 a.m. Arizona time on Sept. 18.
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