Saturday morning was the 21st year for the Green River Area Down Syndrome Association (GRADSA) Buddy Walk.
This was the fourth year for mom and parent volunteer, Kay Peach. Up until then, Kay was mom to three: Dalton, now 16, Reece, 15 and Isabel, 11.
Peach said until Preston was born, they were living life as usual. But they really had no idea what they were missing.
“Life came into full color when Preston came into our family,” Peach said. “He is the glue. We all just rally around Preston.”
As far as Buddy Walk, Peach said, “it really couldn’t have gone any better.” She also voiced how much she appreciated GRADSA Executive Director, Tiffany Thrash for ensuring that once everything was taken care of and the walk started, all the parents had to do was participate.
“Before Preston I didn’t have any experience with anyone with Down Syndrome,” Peach said. “There was so much fear of the unknown.”
Since then, she has been overwhelmed. She said the love she has seen and experienced at the Buddy Walk is indescribable.
“You see the crowd and the love and the community. I think that’s what gets to me every year, is the crowd and the support,” Peach said. “I can’t even describe how important it is.”
The love shown by the community was not the only love on display at the Buddy Walk Saturday.
When each of the participants was called on stage today, the girls to receive their crowns, and the boys their trophies, Matthew Huston, 17, had something special in mind.
Matthew introduced himself as “Paige’s boyfriend,” announced to the emcee that he had a ring and then dropped to one knee and asked Paige Roberts to be his girlfriend.
Matthew’s mom Cindy said that Matthew has liked Paige for quite some time. And at Paige’s 16 birthday party last Saturday, they danced and held hands. Cindy reminded Matthew that he hadn’t formally asked Paige to be his girlfriend yet. So, after the two teenagers completed the Buddy Walk together Saturday morning, Matthew asked Paige the question in front of hundreds of onlookers.
“He had the ring out on the counter this morning. I knew he was up to something,” Cindy Huston said. “He has practiced the scene many times in the living room.”
As far as how Matthew’s parents felt about the public display of affection, they understood completely.
“He’s a romantic. He’s wanted a girlfriend for a long time,” Cindy said. “We’ve always said he’s going to be a really good boyfriend someday.”