THE Wimmera Down Syndrome Support Group raised a record $13,000 during a Step Up for Down Syndrome Walk on Sunday.
More than 150 people strolled along the Wimmera River in Horsham to raise money for Down Syndrome Victoria.
The $13,000 – raised through registrations, online sponsorship and a raffle – more than tripled the fund-raising at the previous event two years ago.
Murtoa’s Lachlan Young led the charge raising $3798, while Shae Howie was not far behind with $2335.
Joanne Page raised $1460, Kristin McIntyre gathered $810 and Isabelle Hoskins collected $550.
Wimmera Down Syndrome Support Group’s Anne Page said the community’s support had been outstanding.
“Due to our geographic location, we have isolated families that really depend on mutual support through the group,” she said.
“Although the community sees the smiles and sees how vibrant people with Down syndrome can be, families often see the frustrations when they aren’t able to communicate.
“We have come a long way but we still need to get people with Down syndrome involved in community events; one of the great outcomes of the walk was that it was a real community effort.”
Mrs Page said Wimmera residents with Down syndrome often struggled to meet each other.
“The friendships are a big thing that our people with Down syndrome realise they are missing out on,” she said.
“We can come together as a group but it is hard to cover the vast range of development stages of people in the Wimmera.
“Sometimes it is easier to home in on the special needs of different ages in Melbourne but it is hard for us because people are geographically spread out.
“They are astute to what they are missing out on; that is the part that breaks your heart.”
Mrs Page thanked Planet Feel Good’s Lisa Cosson for running warm-up exercises and Wimmera businesses for donating raffle prizes.