MindyMay Vidrine loves people.
She is affectionate, good at giving hugs.
"She likes to hold your hand. She just barely learned to give kisses," said her mother, MeriJeanne Vidrine of Kennewick.
The 9-year-old also never seems to sit still, earning her the nickname "Wiggle Worm."
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"We call it the 10-second rule," MeriJeanne said. "She comes over and she sits for about two seconds and she changes her mind."
That was easy to see Wednesday as MindyMay and her mom took at break at Howard Amon Park during a busy day preparing for the Buddy Walk -- an Oct. 4 event organized by the Down Syndrome Association of the Mid-Columbia.
MindyMay, who has Down syndrome and some other diagnoses, alternated between sitting on her mom's lap and walking around the fingernail stage.
The stage and surrounding area will be bustling with activity during the walk. MeriJeanne is one of the organizers. A single mom, she said the Down Syndrome Association is a great support.
And the Buddy Walk is a key fundraiser for the group, drawing about 2,000 people last year.
It's also aimed at building greater awareness and promoting inclusion. People with Down syndrome are more like their typically developing peers than they are different, MeriJeanne said.
"If you had a list of things that were the same and things that were different, I think some people would be surprised by how long the list is that's the same. We just need to start looking at that," she said.
Vidrine said she doesn't like labels or the term "disabled," saying "differently-abled" is a better choice. "We are all abled differently," she said. "These kiddos are no different."
Tracie Winkelman, an association board member, added that, "There are tons of possibilities for our kids. We really want the community to embrace our kids and include them."
The Buddy Walk includes a one-mile walk, plus plenty of other activities, from a drawing to bounce houses, booths and performances.
Vidrine said she hopes community members stop by to check it out. She also encourages businesses and other groups to learn about the local Down Syndrome Association and consider helping sponsor the Buddy Walk next year.
-- IF YOU GO
-- What: The Down Syndrome Association of the Mid-Columbia's eighth annual Buddy Walk.
-- When: 10:30 a.m. Oct. 4.
-- Where: Howard Amon Park in Richland. The one-mile walk to raise money and awareness starts near the fingernail stage.
-- Registration: Cost is $15 for individuals, including a T-shirt, lunch and activities. People with Down syndrome may participate for free. Register from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3 at Shelby's Floral, 5211 W. Clearwater Ave., Kennewick, or at 10 a.m. Oct. 4 at the park.
-- More information. www.dsamc.org.
-- Sara Schilling: 509-582-1529; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @saraTCHerald