SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Five thousand people circled Forsyth Park on Saturday for the annual Buddy Walk.
While the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society had a lot of special guests at its 12th annual walk, one gave this year's walk a national tone.
They walked side by side and stood shoulder to shoulder.
"It's amazing to see everyone here. Every year, there are more and more people here and it just makes you realize how loving everybody can be," said LDSS member and parent, Debbie Johnson.
Love filled the park, along with unity and support. It was an opportunity to educate, advocate, and celebrate individuals with different abilities.
"It gets awareness out about Down Syndrome and that it's just people with different abilities. We're all different and that's what makes us the same," Johnson said.
The president and CEO of the National Down Syndrome Society attended this area's local walk for the first time this year and was impressed with what she saw.
"My very favorite component of my job is going out and visiting our local communities and organizations and the work that the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society is doing is absolutely incredible. They're visionaries in the form of inclusion when it comes to education and the workforce, so it's just an incredible experience being with them today," said CEO, National Down Syndrome Society, Sara Hartweir.
"It's just a wonderful feeling to help out, to be part of the community. It just gives you a great feeling to help," Johnson said.
"Whether it's in Washington, D.C. or state capitals across the country, those personal stories matter, and today is a day to celebrate people with Down Syndrome," Hartweir said.
The president of the National Society was especially impressed with LDSS' work with adults with Down Syndrome and self-advocates.