NDSS

Advocacy in the Big Apple: The National Down Syndrome Society’s New York City Buddy Walk

Two days before I attended my first Buddy Walk, I saw a post on Instagram that said “You ever want to see someone truly dance like no one is watching? Join a Buddy Walk one day and then just watch. And learn.”

Guess what? It was like a day-long dance party that left me filled up with the greatest hope, dreams and immense pride.

A Buddy Walk is an annual event sponsored by the National Down Syndrome that is 100% a celebration of a life with an extra chromosome. It’s less about politics, bills, expectations, discrimination or anything else than other NDSS events but has perhaps the greatest impact. A celebration is incredibly powerful. Buddy Walks consist of a gathering with food, music (definitely dancing), speakers and, of course, a walk filled with teams. Each team celebrates a different individual with Down syndrome and sometimes they have matching shirts, signs, decorations.

The New York City Buddy Walk, 25 years and running, is one of many across the country -- and the largest, too! This year, there were more than 2,000 attendees! One team alone raised more than $5,000!

This was my first Buddy Walk and I will be back many, many times. We started a team for Zach hoping we’d have a handful of people and wound up with more than a dozen friends and family supporting us in Times Square and Central Park.

Our exciting Saturday began with a video on a Jumbotron in Times Square with 500 selected images of people with Down syndrome. There were milestones, dancers, students and everyday moments. A photo of Zach was chosen for the video and I cannot believe that my friend Nicole managed to capture the moment he saw himself up on the big screen. (And I can’t believe what a great photo he took of it with a friend’s phone in the midst of that excitement!).

Tourists paused to check out the video and smile at our large group, several hundred people strong, standing around Duffy Square with phones pointed up at the screen in excited anticipation. Cheers could be heard as young adults saw themselves up on the screen, arms up in the air in celebration. Applause and “aww”s came through the busy intersection every few seconds as the photos changed on the screen. I loved seeing so many familiar faces of new and old friends up on that screen.

But that wasn’t it!
Off to the Great Hill in Central Park we all went for the actual Buddy Walk events, many of us wearing our green T-shirts. The park was FILLED with our group! There were hundreds of donated teddy bears from FACE Amusement, bottled water from Polar, food, games, face painting and more. And some amazing music, too! There was Zumba and speakers and so many beautiful hugs.

I was lucky enough to spend the one-mile walk around Central Park near the front of the group, hanging out with the Grand Marshals of the parade and their families. Before the walk, they told stories of hope and belief and I know they inspired so many that day. I loved watching their excitement during the countdown at the starting line and the joy at receiving medals at the finish line.

And then, at a dance party on the stage, I took a moment to focus not just on the dancers showing off their best moves, but to look at the parents, siblings, grandparents, extended family members and friends at the front of the stage. These loved ones were watching with the biggest smiles on their faces, holding up phones to capture the memories, singing along, clapping their hands.

You know what wasn’t present? Pity. Sympathy. Sadness. Regret. Nope. Those things weren’t invited.

Those parents were a reflection on my own journey. I see and feel no sadness when I think of Zachary. I feel the utmost joy and pride. If he were on that stage, I would have been beaming, too. Oh wait, I was. Because I truly never felt as much “community” as I did watching those other parents that day. The things I would tell the “me” of nine years ago. I would love to tell her about a dance party in Central Park with 2,000 of our closest friends.

I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for the people who joined our team, made the trip and celebrated Zachary this year. And you better watch out: I am *SO* excited to begin planning for next year’s Buddy Walk adventure.

Enjoy this peek into our day!

Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
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Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
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Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Event, NDSS Event photographer, Buddy Walk NYC 2019, New York City Buddy Walk, Down Syndrome awareness, Down syndrome awareness event, DS event

Training, Advocacy and Making a Difference: Photographing the National Down Syndrome Society’s Buddy Walk on Washington

Another favorite annual event to photograph and attend with the National Down Syndrome Society is the springtime Buddy Walk on Washington. This event is where you see advocacy in its greatest form displayed right in front of your eyes, with big dreams, big requests and big moments.

It’s a two-day event that ends with hundreds of self-advocates with Down syndrome and their loved ones -- friends, siblings, parents, aunts, neighbors -- taking on Capitol Hill with meetings with representatives of their home states Congress and Senate asking for fair and equal opportunities in areas like employment, education, marriage and health. Nothing special -- just exactly what everyone else is able to receive in the United States.

But first, the Buddy Walk on Washington event begins with training. Senators and Congressmen and their staff see so many constituents on a daily basis that you really want to stand out. NDSS wants their advocates to make an impression and help get these important people on our team. So, a company called SoapBox leads trainings the day before the actual meetings to teach those in attendance how to make the most of their 10 or 15 minutes in each office.

It’s amazing how even first-time attendees can seem like old pros by the time they get to their first meeting on the second day.

Like most great NDSS events, there was a dance party, too!

But perhaps my favorite moment was when Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy took one of his constituents and her family to the Speaker’s Balcony on Capitol Hill, with its magnificent views of Washington, DC.

Enjoy this peek into a fantastic event!

Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, NDSS Buddy Walk on Washington 2019, Washington DC, Down Syndrome Advocacy, Down Syndrome advocate, National Down Syndrome Society, Washington DC

An Appetite for Advocacy: The C21 Dining Experience in DC with the National Down Syndrome Society

I’ve already shared how much I value my opportunities to advocate with the National Down Syndrome Society but it’s worth repeating. The resources they’ve provided our family and hundreds of others throughout the years in our journey with Down syndrome are so priceless. I love the modern approach they’ve taken with advocacy -- understanding you have to appeal to people in different ways to be heard in a noisy world.

I’ve also shared how much I love their C21 (in honor of the third copy of the 21st chromosome found in people with Down syndrome) dining events. These pop-up restaurants have already taken place in New York, Atlanta, Dallas, New Orleans (one of my favs) and now Washington, DC twice.

The most recent DC C21 event was flawless and impactful. The element of surprise may be gone but you cannot take away the impact of seeing individuals with special needs working hard to ask people to open their eyes and change the world. It’s just huge.

It’s not easy to act as host and hostess, waiters, bartenders and chefs on a busy night in a space that isn’t typically a restaurant venue. But I suppose it’s also not easy to fight daily to prove to people what you’re capable in this world.

This event was filled with some of DC’s most elite and powerful people, but my favorite moments are always watching proud parents and siblings watching their loved one. It’s so, so beautiful.

Here are some peeks into the most amazing restaurant staff you’ll ever experience.

Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, Down Syndrome Awareness, NDSS C21 DC 2019, NDSS C21, Down Syndrome awareness event, NDSS photographer, Washington DC NDSS Event, Washington DC Down Syndrome Awareness
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, Down Syndrome Awareness, NDSS C21 DC 2019, NDSS C21, Down Syndrome awareness event, NDSS photographer, Washington DC NDSS Event, Washington DC Down Syndrome Awareness
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, Down Syndrome Awareness, NDSS C21 DC 2019, NDSS C21, Down Syndrome awareness event, NDSS photographer, Washington DC NDSS Event, Washington DC Down Syndrome Awareness
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, Down Syndrome Awareness, NDSS C21 DC 2019, NDSS C21, Down Syndrome awareness event, NDSS photographer, Washington DC NDSS Event, Washington DC Down Syndrome Awareness
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, Down Syndrome Awareness, NDSS C21 DC 2019, NDSS C21, Down Syndrome awareness event, NDSS photographer, Washington DC NDSS Event, Washington DC Down Syndrome Awareness
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, Down Syndrome Awareness, NDSS C21 DC 2019, NDSS C21, Down Syndrome awareness event, NDSS photographer, Washington DC NDSS Event, Washington DC Down Syndrome Awareness
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, Down Syndrome Awareness, NDSS C21 DC 2019, NDSS C21, Down Syndrome awareness event, NDSS photographer, Washington DC NDSS Event, Washington DC Down Syndrome Awareness
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, Down Syndrome Awareness, NDSS C21 DC 2019, NDSS C21, Down Syndrome awareness event, NDSS photographer, Washington DC NDSS Event, Washington DC Down Syndrome Awareness
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, Down Syndrome Awareness, NDSS C21 DC 2019, NDSS C21, Down Syndrome awareness event, NDSS photographer, Washington DC NDSS Event, Washington DC Down Syndrome Awareness
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, Down Syndrome Awareness, NDSS C21 DC 2019, NDSS C21, Down Syndrome awareness event, NDSS photographer, Washington DC NDSS Event, Washington DC Down Syndrome Awareness
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, Down Syndrome Awareness, NDSS C21 DC 2019, NDSS C21, Down Syndrome awareness event, NDSS photographer, Washington DC NDSS Event, Washington DC Down Syndrome Awareness
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, Down Syndrome Awareness, NDSS C21 DC 2019, NDSS C21, Down Syndrome awareness event, NDSS photographer, Washington DC NDSS Event, Washington DC Down Syndrome Awareness
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, Down Syndrome Awareness, NDSS C21 DC 2019, NDSS C21, Down Syndrome awareness event, NDSS photographer, Washington DC NDSS Event, Washington DC Down Syndrome Awareness
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, Down Syndrome Awareness, NDSS C21 DC 2019, NDSS C21, Down Syndrome awareness event, NDSS photographer, Washington DC NDSS Event, Washington DC Down Syndrome Awareness
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, Down Syndrome Awareness, NDSS C21 DC 2019, NDSS C21, Down Syndrome awareness event, NDSS photographer, Washington DC NDSS Event, Washington DC Down Syndrome Awareness
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, Down Syndrome Awareness, NDSS C21 DC 2019, NDSS C21, Down Syndrome awareness event, NDSS photographer, Washington DC NDSS Event, Washington DC Down Syndrome Awareness
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, Down Syndrome Awareness, NDSS C21 DC 2019, NDSS C21, Down Syndrome awareness event, NDSS photographer, Washington DC NDSS Event, Washington DC Down Syndrome Awareness
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, Down Syndrome Awareness, NDSS C21 DC 2019, NDSS C21, Down Syndrome awareness event, NDSS photographer, Washington DC NDSS Event, Washington DC Down Syndrome Awareness
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, Down Syndrome Awareness, NDSS C21 DC 2019, NDSS C21, Down Syndrome awareness event, NDSS photographer, Washington DC NDSS Event, Washington DC Down Syndrome Awareness
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, Down Syndrome Awareness, NDSS C21 DC 2019, NDSS C21, Down Syndrome awareness event, NDSS photographer, Washington DC NDSS Event, Washington DC Down Syndrome Awareness
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS Events, Down Syndrome Awareness, NDSS C21 DC 2019, NDSS C21, Down Syndrome awareness event, NDSS photographer, Washington DC NDSS Event, Washington DC Down Syndrome Awareness

A C21 Pop-Up Restaurant Event in New Orleans with the National Down Syndrome Society

I have photographed events with the National Down Syndrome Society now for four years (consistently and frequently for the last two) and although all of them are powerful and impactful in their own ways, the C21 events are hands-down my favorites.

C21 is the name NDSS has given to pop-up restaurants across the country (Washington, DC, New York City, Atlanta, Dallas and more) featuring only workers with an extra 21st chromosome (hence the name). These self-advocates act as hosts and hostesses, servers, bartenders and musical and artistic entertainment. They greet you with a warm smile, clear your dishes with kindness, pour your red wine with care and leave love on your heart -- and a clear message that says “We are employable and we are hard workers.”

In February, I traveled to the Big Easy and photographed a Buddy Walk Organizers training conference and the New Orleans C21 event. Although I was only in the city for about 22 hours total, I immediately felt the warmth and vividness and joy from its residents.

This C21 event was held at New Orleans’ WWII Museum which is just a dream to visit and photograph in -- windows and high ceilings and amazing little details around every corner. It was filled with so many incredible volunteers and guests and had some of the best reactions to the event that I’ve seen so far -- we’re talking beautiful tears of happiness and amazement and so many “Aha!” moments.

I gained a new friendship -- with my friend Shawn, a fellow DS Momma and mom to TRIPLETS, including Coldon, the inspiration for Coldon’s Krewe. I happened to be photographing near her table while her and her husband heard powerful speeches asking for equal opportunities at so many basic human rights and saw firsthand the way the event touched her. It was so beautiful. I can’t wait to see her in September for the NDSS Buddy Walk.

Enjoy this peek into a beautiful night!

Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS, New Orleans Down Syndrome event, New Orleans NDSS photographer, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome, C21 Pop-Up Restaurant, Buddy Walk
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS, New Orleans Down Syndrome event, New Orleans NDSS photographer, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome, C21 Pop-Up Restaurant, Buddy Walk
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS, New Orleans Down Syndrome event, New Orleans NDSS photographer, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome, C21 Pop-Up Restaurant, Buddy Walk
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS, New Orleans Down Syndrome event, New Orleans NDSS photographer, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome, C21 Pop-Up Restaurant, Buddy Walk
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS, New Orleans Down Syndrome event, New Orleans NDSS photographer, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome, C21 Pop-Up Restaurant, Buddy Walk
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS, New Orleans Down Syndrome event, New Orleans NDSS photographer, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome, C21 Pop-Up Restaurant, Buddy Walk
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS, New Orleans Down Syndrome event, New Orleans NDSS photographer, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome, C21 Pop-Up Restaurant, Buddy Walk
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS, New Orleans Down Syndrome event, New Orleans NDSS photographer, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome, C21 Pop-Up Restaurant, Buddy Walk
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS, New Orleans Down Syndrome event, New Orleans NDSS photographer, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome, C21 Pop-Up Restaurant, Buddy Walk
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS, New Orleans Down Syndrome event, New Orleans NDSS photographer, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome, C21 Pop-Up Restaurant, Buddy Walk
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS, New Orleans Down Syndrome event, New Orleans NDSS photographer, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome, C21 Pop-Up Restaurant, Buddy Walk
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS, New Orleans Down Syndrome event, New Orleans NDSS photographer, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome, C21 Pop-Up Restaurant, Buddy Walk
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS, New Orleans Down Syndrome event, New Orleans NDSS photographer, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome, C21 Pop-Up Restaurant, Buddy Walk
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS, New Orleans Down Syndrome event, New Orleans NDSS photographer, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome, C21 Pop-Up Restaurant, Buddy Walk
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS, New Orleans Down Syndrome event, New Orleans NDSS photographer, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome, C21 Pop-Up Restaurant, Buddy Walk
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS, New Orleans Down Syndrome event, New Orleans NDSS photographer, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome, C21 Pop-Up Restaurant, Buddy Walk
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS, New Orleans Down Syndrome event, New Orleans NDSS photographer, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome, C21 Pop-Up Restaurant, Buddy Walk
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS, New Orleans Down Syndrome event, New Orleans NDSS photographer, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome, C21 Pop-Up Restaurant, Buddy Walk
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS, New Orleans Down Syndrome event, New Orleans NDSS photographer, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome, C21 Pop-Up Restaurant, Buddy Walk
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS, New Orleans Down Syndrome event, New Orleans NDSS photographer, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome, C21 Pop-Up Restaurant, Buddy Walk
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS, New Orleans Down Syndrome event, New Orleans NDSS photographer, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome, C21 Pop-Up Restaurant, Buddy Walk
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS, New Orleans Down Syndrome event, New Orleans NDSS photographer, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome, C21 Pop-Up Restaurant, Buddy Walk
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS, New Orleans Down Syndrome event, New Orleans NDSS photographer, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome, C21 Pop-Up Restaurant, Buddy Walk
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS, New Orleans Down Syndrome event, New Orleans NDSS photographer, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome, C21 Pop-Up Restaurant, Buddy Walk
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS, New Orleans Down Syndrome event, New Orleans NDSS photographer, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome, C21 Pop-Up Restaurant, Buddy Walk
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS, New Orleans Down Syndrome event, New Orleans NDSS photographer, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome, C21 Pop-Up Restaurant, Buddy Walk
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS, New Orleans Down Syndrome event, New Orleans NDSS photographer, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome, C21 Pop-Up Restaurant, Buddy Walk
Wendy Zook Photography | NDSS, New Orleans Down Syndrome event, New Orleans NDSS photographer, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome, C21 Pop-Up Restaurant, Buddy Walk

Caring with Congress 2019 {A Washington, DC Event with the National Down Syndrome Society}

The National Down Syndrome Society and Down syndrome awareness in general are so important to me. NDSS was the first contact we had while doing scary research in those first days after our son Zachary was postnatally diagnosed with Down syndrome. Since those first overwhelming days and weeks, they’ve been a constant source of support, encouragement and advice. In recent years, I’ve had the most incredible honor of being a photographer for many of NDSS’s special events. I’ve traveled to New York City and New Orleans and a handful of places in between, but some of my favorite memories with NDSS are events right in our backyard of Washington, DC.

Caring with Congress is an event aimed at celebrating the members of Congress who have fought for and supported bills and important laws regarding people with Down syndrome and all disabilities. Every day, NDSS fights for rights regarding education, employment, health and even marriage and many members of Congress help make those fights just a little easier and a lot more likely to happen.

This was the 15th Caring with Congress event and all funds raised went towards NDSS’s Research Innovation & Discovery Fund that supports research and clinical infrastructure needs for the Down syndrome scientific and research community.

In between speeches and presentations from members of the US government and DC officials were beautiful moments between the hard-working staff at NDSS and the many self-advocates (individuals with Down syndrome who advocate on their own behalf) who were assisting at the event with serving and greeting.

These are the people that make big changes happen and big dreams come true and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to work with them and celebrate them. Because of them, the future for my son changes every single day.

Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019
Wendy Zook Photography | National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome awareness, Down Syndrome advocate, DS advocate, MD Down Syndrome advocate, Down Syndrome Photographer, DS photographer, Down Syndrome photography, NDSS, Caring with Congress 2019