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Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville aims to raise $255,000 during Buddy Walk

Teams throughout northeast Florida and southeast Georgia are raising money Saturday in small groups.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville's Buddy Walk looks a little different in 2020. It's not held at the usual spot at the Jacksonville Seawalk Pavilion due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teams throughout northeast Florida and southeast Georgia are raising money Saturday in small groups. 

“My family is going to be doing the backyard cookout, and whenever there’s any chance for my husband to fire up the big green egg and celebrate, that’s what we’re going to do," Julie Steinkamp said. 

Julie Steinkamp and her 13-year-old son Luke Steinkamp will raise money during their barbeque for the Buddy Walk on Team Cool Hand Luke, 

“That is our team because Luke is always cool, and he just goes with the flow," Julie Steinkamp said. 

She said programs through the DSAJ mean the world to her and her son.

“They do social groups with all the different age groups," she said. "He’s been playing soccer on their soccer team for five or six years. He plays basketball."

Southside United Methodist Church in San Marco is one organization taking part in the Buddy Walk. They're doing a one-mile walk. 

“We thought the Buddy Walk was the perfect opportunity to invite friends and neighbors to our friends with abilities, special abilities, that have Down syndrome in the neighborhood," said Amy Franks, youth director at Southside United Methodist Church. 

The DSAJ gets no federal or state money. Everything is paid for through donations, and Steinkamp said it's money that helps Luke to thrive. 

“People always say, ‘Well, what can’t he do? Can he not do that? Can he not do this,’ but we really like to talk about all the things that Luke can do," Steinkamp said.

The goal is to raise $255,000 for this year's Buddy Walk, and teams have raised $208,000 so far. You can donate by clicking here