Mother and son participate in Down’s Syndrome walk

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 1, 2005

Harris Fischer doesn’t think he’s different.

His friends don’t think he’s different. His family and his teachers at John Yeates Middle School don’t think he’s different.

In fact, more and more people are realizing the 12-year-old, and the 350,000 others throughout the country with Down’s Syndrome as not different – because events like today’s Buddy Walk in Norfolk have been teaching them.

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&uot;The Buddy Walk promotes awareness of the vital role that people with Down’s Syndrome can play in our society,&uot; said Harris’ mother Anne, who’ll be walking with her son for the third time in the Walk’s four-year history. &uot;These kids and adults are more like us than they are different.&uot;

The half-mile walk will start at 1 p.m. at the Old Dominion University fieldhouse, with registration beginning at 11:30 a.m. It’s the start of National Down’s Syndrome Awareness Month, and roughly 200 Walks are planned across the country. Last year, the Buddy Walks raised more than $2.5 million to benefit the Down’s Syndrome community. Grand Marshall WTKR newscaster Joe Flanagan will get things going in the Norfolk walk, along with the ODU women’s basketball team.

&uot;The Lady Monarchs are nice,&uot; said Harris, diagnosed just after birth. &uot;They sign my T-shirt.&uot;

A Special Olympics golfing champion, Harris would like to someday play in the NBA &uot;for the Lakers or the Chicago Bulls, like Michael Jordan.

&uot;I liked playing with my friends, like cars or Pokemon. We play outside, like basketball or baseball. I can’t wait for the Walk. I love Buddy Walks, because I get to hang out and dance.&uot;

&uot;I’m not saying that he doesn’t get assistance in school,&uot; Anne said of her son, &uot;but he’s in regular classes, and always has been. He’s as capable of anyone of providing some sort of service to the community.

&uot;He doesn’t have any friends who have disabilities. He doesn’t think there’s anything different about them, and they don’t think there’s anything different about them. At (age) 12, they probably know, but they’re OK with it, because they’ve been sitting in class with him since kindergarten.&uot;