Wellington Family Selected Buddy Walk Ambassadors

The Sassin family of Wellington has been chosen as the Gold Coast Down Syndrome Organization’s Buddy Walk ambassador family.

Joe and Chari Sassin have been involved with the Gold Coast Down Syndrome Organization since the birth of their four-year-old son, Ben. Today Ben is thriving in pre-school, Chari is vice president of the GCDSO board and Joe served as the founder of the dads group.

The Sassins attended their first Buddy Walk when Ben was three months old. Last year, the family was the top Buddy Walk fundraiser, raising more than $14,000. Other Wellington residents who were 2012 top fundraisers include Toby Brodtman and Janessa Gross.

“We are involved with the Buddy Walk because we have been first-hand recipients of the good that Gold Coast does for the Down syndrome community,” Chari Sassin said. “From the phone calls and packet of information we received within days of our diagnosis to having an advocate at our IEP meetings, there is nothing that GCDSO won’t do to help its families be included and succeed.”

The Gold Coast Down Syndrome Organization, a nonprofit serving children and adults with Down syndrome and their families through education, advocacy and support, will hold the 19th annual Buddy Walk, presented by G4S, on Sunday, Oct. 20 at John Prince Park in Lake Worth. Check-in begins at 8 a.m., and the opening ceremony starts at 9:15 a.m. Activities continue until 1 p.m. Participants may register online or the day of the walk. To register, or for more information, visit www.buddywalk.kintera.org/gcdso, e-mail contact ad.gcdso@bellsouth.net or call (561) 752-3383.

Buddy Walk participants can choose a 5K fitness walk or 1-mile advocacy walk followed by a free breakfast, dunk tank, bounce house, petting zoo, rock wall, pony rides, live entertainment, raffle, silent auction and more. The Buddy Walk celebrates the talents and capabilities of children and adults with Down syndrome and is the major fundraiser for the GCDSO’s programs and services throughout Palm Beach County. In 2012, the walk attracted over 2,600 walkers and raised a net of over $155,000. Thanks to presenting sponsor G4S, this year’s walk will feature hot dogs and other refreshments, available for a small donation.

“G4S is proud to be part of the Gold Coast Down Syndrome Buddy Walk again this year. Around the world, G4S strives to make a positive impact on local communities, and here in South Florida, we know how important it is to make sure that every child with Down syndrome can look forward to a lifetime of opportunities and success,” said Drew Levine, president of G4S Secure Solutions of North America and honorary chair of this year’s walk. “Our G4S team is led by Kim Chamberlain, who, along with her daughter Jillian, inspires us to participate in this worthy cause.”

Buddy Walk Chair is Cindy Calvagne, and committee members are: Sheri McCants-Hubers, Daniela Chea, Victoria Berardesco, Laila Seagle, Cyndi Pampena, Tina King, Toby Brodtman, Kathy Coughlin, Daisy Palmer, Winifred Tuschen, Sue Joyner, Susan Sprayberry, Joe Sassin, Tina Trujillo, Gertrude Felix, Mackenzie Felix, Sandy McGregor, Michele Nickles, Wayne Carson, Anita Ford, Janessa Gross, Christa Wilbanks, Jaymie Cabot, Andrea Calvagne, Lisa Richards, Sue Davis-Killian, Terri Harmon and Anne Dichele.

The GCDSO has been empowering individuals with Down syndrome and their families since 1980. Visit www.goldcoastdownsyndrome.org for more information.


ABOVE: Joe, Chari and Ben Sassin, the Buddy Walk Ambassador Family.