Step Up walk brings hundreds together, raises thousands of dollars

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COLUMBIA - Hundreds of walkers raised $82,000 for the Down Syndrome Guild on Sunday.

The first Central MO Step Up for Down Syndrome walk brought more than 800 people to the parking lot of the Hearnes Center in Columbia.

The Down Syndrome Guild started in Kansas City. The annual walk has been raising money there for 24 years.

An organizer for the guild said they have blown their expectations out of the water.

“When we came here in June we thought 50,00 maybe, 500 people," Chief Development Officer Amy Stoll said. "It's 800 people, close to 80,000, it's huge.”

Stoll has worked for the guild for 12 years and has loved expanding to mid-Missouri.

“I’m going to start crying, because it’s what we do everyday," Stoll said. "And to bring what we do in Kansas City here it just means so much.”

At the walk today there was music, food, inflatables and carnival games. Stoll said it was all about creating a community.

“We’ve put all these families together here today so they can get to know each other, because they're all going through the same thing, caring for a child with down syndrome,” Stoll said.

Stoll says the people and community at events like these can really stick with you.

“Once you interact and get to know a child with down syndrome, or an adult or anyone with that matter you're hooked," Stoll said. "They're in your heart forever.”

In the future, Stoll wants to make the walk even bigger in mid-Missouri. Plus, she wants to expand to Springfield and St. Louis.