The Ups of Downs hosts annual awareness walk

Volunteers set up the balloon arch for The Ups of Downs ninth annual Down Syndrome Awareness Walk. (Photo by Julie Riedel)

Bringing awareness to Down Syndrome one step at a time. On Saturday The Ups of Downs held the nonprofit’s ninth annual Down Syndrome Awareness Walk.

This year 272 people participated in the walk held at Tomlinson Run State Park. The walk started at 2 p.m. and afterwards there was food, an inflatable obstacle course and other family friendly activities.

The Ups of Downs was started by Nikki D’Atri in 2009, with the goal of offering activities and support to families with members who have Downs Syndrome. D’Atri started the nonprofit because her 13 year old daughter has Down Syndrome.

“I want the world to see them for who they are,” said D’Atri . “Our whole purposes is to show others their potential and not their disabilities.”

Over the last 10 years The Ups of Downs has grown from supporting seven families to 32 within the Tri-State Area. There are families from Hancock, Columbiana, Jefferson and Beaver counties involved in the group. All the funds raised stay within the organization, and go towards offering opportunities to those with Downs.

“I’m thankful for all the volunteers, and I’m always happy to see the families who attend and beyond grateful for what we can do for the kids,” said D’Atri.

Every year Ups of Downs holds a golf scramble, quarter auction and awareness walk as the group’s fundraisers. The group also holds an Easter Egg Hunt, a Christmas party, a summer outing and a fall event for the members.