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South Seas’ ‘Buddy Walk’ raises awareness, funds for Down syndrome

By Staff | Nov 12, 2009

Last Saturday, South Seas Island Resort hosted the island’s first annual “Buddy Walk” and raised $8,000 – the original goal being just $5,000 – for the National Down Syndrome Society and to support the integration of children with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities at the Sanibel Sea School.

The 1.5 mile walk down Plantation Road began at 11 a.m, ending with a celebration of live entertainment, buffet lunch and bounce house fun on the East Lawn beside Sunset Beach.

South Seas Island Resort managing director Rick Hayduk said that he personally identifies with this cause because of his four-year-old daughter, Jamison.

“I have learned how extraordinary Jamison and other Down syndrome individuals are. They are blessed to keep life simple and remind us of the meaning of true happiness and unconditional love,” Hayduk said, noting that because this year’s event was such a huge success, South Seas is already beginning preparations for a Buddy Walk in 2010.

According to Bruce Neill, executive director of the Sanibel Sea School, the money raised by the Buddy Walk will provide funds for scholarships for the Sanibel Sea School.

“We are so thankful to South Seas for hosting this extraordinary event. Our mission is to promote marine conservation, but our methods promote the stewardship of humanity. To that end, we are deliberately inclusive and believe in integrating children with intellectual disabilities into our existing programs to interact with other kids. Very quickly, everyone learns to appreciate the gifts of a special needs child, and together they all learn to love the ocean,” Neill said.

The Buddy Walk garnered many family sponsorships at $100 each and corporate sponsorships for $250 from organizations and businesses including Offshore Sailing School, Swimtastic Swim School, Ram Investments, LLC, Kay Casperson Spa, Island Pharmacy, American Legion Post 123, SunTrust Bank and Captiva Cruises.

For more information about South Seas Island Resort, contact 1-800-CAPTIVA or visit www.southseas.com.

For more information about Down syndrome, visit www.ndss.org.

For more information about the Sanibel Sea School, visit www.sanibelseaschool.org.