On the morning of October 8th, families gathered at Stinson Park in Omaha for the 15th annual Omaha Buddy Walk. The event began with carnival activities, including face painting and a photo booth. Walkers assembled behind the starting line at noon, and after crossing the finish, they enjoyed a picnic lunch in the park while a DJ played upbeat tunes. Amongst the beautiful smiles, joyful laughter, and silly photos that day there was abundant love and support for our friends with Down syndrome.The Down Syndrome Alliance of the Midlands organizes the Omaha Buddy Walk every year. It’s just one example of this organization’s extensive efforts to make a difference in the lives of families touched by Down syndrome. The Omaha Buddy Walk has raised over $100,000 dollars so far this year. These donations will go to hundreds of families in the Omaha metro area so they can better care for their loved ones with Down syndrome. According to the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), one out of 691 babies born in this country has Down syndrome. It is the most common genetic condition. Right now, there are approximately 400,000 Americans with Down syndrome and nearly 6,000 babies with the condition are born in the U.S. each year.In April, I met with representatives of NDSS in my office during their visit to the Senate. We discussed legislation called the Advancing Care for Exceptional (ACE) Kids Act. I am a cosponsor of this bill, which would alleviate roadblocks and delays to care for children with medically complex conditions. Down syndrome is classified as “medically complex,” meaning patients require a high intensity of care and often need to visit a range of specialists. By allowing children to move from state to state so they can receive the care they need, the ACE Kids Act would reduce stress for families. Quality health care is essential, but programs like the Omaha Buddy Walk play an important role, too. They highlight the remarkable accomplishments of those in the Down syndrome community and help these men, women, and children become more integrated into society. Through the right education programs, positive home environments, and good health care they can lead productive lives. To do so, they need the support from their loved ones, friends, and neighbors. The success of the Omaha Buddy Walk proves that in Nebraska, this support is already being provided. This is due in large part to our strong and supportive communities. It’s also because of our core values. These values form our foundation and I bring them with me to the U.S. Senate each and every day. One such value is the sanctity of life. I believe that there is dignity, value, and worth in every human life. During my time in public service, I have supported common-sense pro-life measures that offer compassion for women and unborn children in difficult circumstances. As your U.S. senator, I will continue to fight for Nebraska values and protect life at every stage. At the same time, I hope you will continue to make a difference in your community. Whether you participate in an event like the Omaha Buddy Walk, join a march for life, or dedicate time to volunteering, I encourage you take a stand for what you believe in. Our state and our communities will be stronger because of it.
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