This past weekend the Chiefs Community Caring Team hosted the 20th annual First Downs for Down Syndrome (FDFDS) Step Up Walk in an effort to raise awareness and funds to support education and medical needs in youth with Down syndrome.
FDFDS is the charity of choice for the Chiefs offensive linemen who greeted the participants as they were getting ready to cross the start line. On Saturday, 345 teams participated in the walk which consisted of 8,659 people walking to step up for Down syndrome.
“As a position group, we are really excited to again be involved not just with the Step Up Walk but First Downs for Down Syndrome as a whole,” Chiefs player,
Since its inception in 1992, FDFDS has raised over $5.5M thanks to the partnership. FDFDS is supported solely through tax-deductible contributions and fundraisers throughout the year.
This year $478,707 was raised through the Step Up Walk and 100 percent of the proceeds stay in Kansas City to benefit the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City. The DSG serves over 1,200 families and partners with 22 hospitals, 45 school districts and countless service providers in Kansas and Missouri.
“We are so blessed to have Ryan Lilja and the entire Kansas City Chiefs offensive line’s support,” the Executive Director of FDFDS, Amy Stoll said. “The walk is such a special day for our families and their presence here mingling and encouraging the participants truly makes a difference!”
Although it was a chilly morning it was filled with laughter, enthusiasm and high spirits.
“Our offensive line’s tie to First Downs for Down Syndrome dates back to 1992 and it’s one that has truly evolved these past two decades,” Chuck Castellano, Chiefs Community Relations Manager, explained. “Yet, throughout that time the one constant has been the genuine excitement our players have when they interact with these remarkable children and their families. The Step Up Walk is such a huge component to helping FDFDS make an impact in our local community.”
There are hundreds of families in the Kansas City area caring for a loved one with Down syndrome. With the help of FDFDS, these families have local access to vital medical, emotional, and educational support services.
The goal this year was to raise $470,000 but with the help of 345 teams, the goal was exceeded, lives were changed, and the impact it will have on the community is incalculable.