Sunday, September 29, 2013

Fraternity holds Buddy Walk

by Jelissa Neal from the East Tennessean:Many student organizations are starting the year off right, giving back to the community and raising money for a great cause. One organization in particular is Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE).The SAE Fraternity held their annual Buddy Walk on Sept. 7.The Buddy Walk is an event that teams up with the local organization FRIENDS (Friends Reaching, Inspiring, and Educating Neighbors about Down Syndrome), a Johnson City affiliate with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) and SAE’s local philanthropy. The NDSS was also a sponsor of this event.The Buddy Walk raises money by allowing people to pledge per lap the number of laps that a team walks. It was created by NDSS in 1995 to celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness Month in October.This year, the Buddy Walk was held on the ETSU soccer field, rather than on the Veterans Administration campus.“It’s not just families [that show up],” said Andrew Doerner, vice president of SAE. “It’s families and friends and support groups. It’s really just everyone coming together, and it’s a chance for families to see that there are other families that a just like them; they’re not alienated.”SAE arrived at 7 a.m. to help set up and work the event, where they served food, painted faces and dressed up as popular cartoon characters, including Scooby-Doo and Blues Clues.“It’s our chance to reach out,” Doerner said. “It’s our chance to give back to the community, to show that we’re not what you see on TV.“We’re not that stereotypical “all we do is drink” [fraternity]. We do a lot of things. A lot of times our positives are overshadowed by other people’s negatives. I wanted a chance to put [the good that we do]out there.”SAE also helps out with Relay for Life and the sorority philanthropies, and even has a Christmas party with FRIENDS.Later this month, Sept. 24-25, SAE will also sponsor Chris Dula’s Study Seminar along with Sigma Kappa.Organizers consider the Buddy Walk a success. It had about 750 participants and raised $36,000 (as an event, not by SAE individually).When asked about the best part of participating in the Buddy Walk, Doerner said, “When we get there, it’s early and we don’t like setting up, but you see how appreciative [families] are. They walk up to us and say, ‘We couldn’t have done this without you.’ It’s really empowering to feel like we can change stuff. We can have an impact if it’s just sitting here handing people sandwiches. It really changes people.”For more information about Down Syndrome and how to volunteer, visit

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