Tara Pitts and Vanessa Hill, both of Valrico, are cousins and have an extremely close bond. They both have been blessed with children who have Down syndrome.
Pitts and Hill became advocates for their children and are involved with the Down Syndrome Association of Tampa Bay (DSATB) as co-secretaries for the association.
“I got involved with Down syndrome nonprofits because I have a 14-year-old son with Down syndrome. He is the oldest of four siblings and the best thing that ever happened to us,” Pitts said.
“One of my passions is volunteering and being involved in the community,” Hill said. “After marrying my high school sweetheart, we decided to start a family. We were so excited to welcome our baby girl. After learning that she would be born with Down syndrome, I became inspired to be an advocate for not only her, but also other kids with Down syndrome. Tara’s son was also born with Down syndrome, so our family has been double blessed.”
DSATB will host its inaugural Buddy Walk Drive-Thru for Down Syndrome on Saturday, October 24 at 9 a.m. at Kiddy Up Ranch in Hudson. Registration is free for this event.
“Due to the COVID pandemic, Down Syndrome Association of Tampa Bay’s inaugural Buddy Walk has changed from an in-person event to a drive-through on the farm event,” said Pitts. “We will have animals to view and prizes to give put from the safety of your own vehicles. Costumes are encouraged and a prize will be given to the best decorated vehicle.”
The Buddy Walk Drive-Thru has three primary goals. They are: to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome; to raise funds locally and nationally for education, research and advocacy programs; and to enhance the position of the Down syndrome community by enabling them to positively influence local policy and practice.
“Our hope for the walk is to see families having fun,” Hill said. “Having a child with Down syndrome means we need a lot of support. We want to be that support for others.”
Hill and Pitts are in need of sponsors and prizes for the upcoming Buddy Walk Drive-Thru.
“We would graciously welcome any additional attendance, prizes or sponsorships from the community at our event,” said Pitts.
“We would definitely appreciate and love as many supporters as possible,” Hill said. “We want people to come and support but also feel supported. As an organization, we want to give back to the community as much as possible.”
To learn more about DSATB, visit www.dsatb.org. If you would like to be a part of the Buddy Walk Drive-Thru, you can register at www.ds-stride.org/dsatbbuddywalk. If you would like to donate items as prizes at the Buddy Walk, you can email Pitts at firstname.lastname@example.org.