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Buddies walk for Down syndrome (video)

By chirst
Oct. 20, 2012 at 5:20 a.m.
Updated Oct. 21, 2012 at 5:21 a.m.

Carol Muegge, of Edna, holds her granddaughter, Halle Henke, 18 months, of El Campo, before the start of Saturday's Down Syndrome Buddy Walk in Riverside Park. Halle had a team of about 15 people walking with her calling themselves "Halle's Angels."

More information

To learn more about the Down Syndrome League of Victoria, visit http://www.dslvictoriatx.org

She was surrounded by angels.

Halle's Angels, a group of about 15 aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents, wore their pink and yellow shirts proudly - even the men.

"They are good sports about it," Halle's mom, Misty Henke, said, laughing as the group from El Campo, Edna, Port Lavaca and Ganado assembled around the 18-month-old smiling girl.

Halle's big sister, 3-year-old Presley, even wore pink wings for the Down Syndrome League of Victoria Buddy Walk on Saturday.

"They are such special, loving people. It takes them longer to do things that we take for granted, but they just have so much to offer," Henke said.

Halle, diagnosed with Down syndrome when she was born, just learned how to stand up.

But she loves to watch Dora the explorer and go to swimming lessons, her mom said.

"It is just the unknown," Henke said. "I don't have a lot of experience with it yet, so I need to meet other people who are in my shoes and learn from them."

Her main concern right now, she said, is how school will work for Halle - if she should be mainstreamed or go through special education.

And that is a big reason Susan Bailey, of Victoria, attends the league's events.

"My son Michael has Down syndrome, and he is 29. We have been through some of the things the younger ones are going through and we want to give our support," Bailey said.

Michael made the lap around Riverside Stadium with his best buddy, Isaac, 59, who also has Down syndrome.

Bailey said they were also at Saturday's event to raise awareness about Down syndrome in Victoria.

"A lot of people don't understand it. And people are not as accepting of something they don't understand," Bailey said.

Morgan Matula, president of the Down Syndrome League of Victoria, estimates the group raised more than $10,000 this year, 90 percent of which stays in Victoria for awareness and education programs.

Matula's daughter, Lauren, 4, also has Down syndrome.

"It is just my passion. I want individuals with Down syndrome to have every opportunity a person like you or me would have," Matula said. "We are all so much more alike than we are different."

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