First Buddy Walk: In 2008, Biffle and I attended our first Buddy Walk with Maybelle, no bigger than a comma, in a sling around Biffle's torso. We went mostly to gather evidence, nervously wanting to find out what this Down syndrome stuff was going to involve. We both remember very clearly the memory of seeing a girl riding her bike with her dad--for both of us that was incredibly reassuring.
Second Buddy Walk: In 2009, we three attended again. This time we had a community and a poster, and the whole event felt much more like a fun gathering--not anxious evidence collection. Maybelle sat and played with her friends before and after, and she cruised through the walk in her stroller.
Third Buddy Walk, today: A one-mile walk. A 25-month-old person who's just recently begun walking. She walked the entire way, grinning and laughing the whole time. Biffle and I were amazed. We didn't bring any sort of baby-hauling device, but we figured when she got tired we'd carry her. And then every time we picked her up, she wriggled down and wanted to walk. The only exceptions to the walking were moments like the one documented here, when she'd get swung into the air. This photo is also useful because look at who's behind Dave, Rosemary, Elizabeth, Maybelle, and Biffle: the police cars that designate the end of the parade. In the photo above, the walk is just beginning, and we're close to the front of the clump. By this point, we're the very last ones. The police were having to go our speed, because we were walking, and the parade didn't end until Maybelle got to the finish line. (We know from another friend that this isn't the first time this has happened at the Buddy Walk, and the police seemed perfectly fine with driving at two-year-old walking speed.)
Another really cool thing about this year's Buddy Walk is that we had the chance to meet a couple who are expecting a baby in November, and who know that their baby has Down syndrome. We were able to be some of the folks responding to their anxious evidence-collecting, offering happy congratulations and telling them what a great adventure it's going to be.
If you want to see more pictures of Maybelle's delighted walking, I've created a set on Flickr.