OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A special event took place at the Myriad Gardens on Saturday morning.
The 27th Annual Down Syndrome Association Festival and 5K kicked off bright and early at 8 a.m.
The group is hoping to gain acceptance and inclusion for those living with Down syndrome.
“We’re just here to celebrate the extra 21st chromosome individuals with Down syndrome and all of their abilities,” said Sarah Soell, the Executive Director for Down Syndrome Association of Oklahoma.
“There is no words, to meet all these families and all these great kids, great adults. Their hearts are so big,” said Leigh Ann Taylor, Board Member and event committee chairman.
“We’ve been doing the awareness walk for 27 years. It started in a small park 27 years ago with about 200 people with a picnic at the end and it’s grown into this,” Soell said.
The event had over 2,000 people in attendance, 500 of them joining in on the 5K and walk.
The purpose is to spread love and acceptance to those living with Down syndrome, no matter what their age.
“Talk to them, introduce yourself. Meet them. Ask them questions. They’re just like you and I,” Taylor said.
After hitting the pavement, the festival opened up with carnival games, a DJ and even face painting.
“One of the main motives of today and of the Down Syndrome Association is to accept, respect and include those with Down syndrome in our communities. I think that’s the biggest change we want to see,” said Ashleigh Robinson, the current Miss Oklahoma.
Robinson was on hand, hanging out with her sister Danielle.
“Be you, be yourself and be kind,” Danielle said.
The group is currently raising money for World Down Syndrome Day coming up in October with a goal of raising $200,000. As of Saturday morning, they’ve reached about $170,000.
For more information on how you can help, visit the Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma’s website.