Lincoln Land Down Syndrome Society is a support network for families residing in and around Sangamon County to promote awareness, acceptance, inclusion and education of people with Down syndrome.

The Lincoln Land Down Syndrome Support Group was formed around 1990 by a group of families from Springfield, Illinois, and the surrounding communities for the purpose of providing a support network for families having a member with Down syndrome. In September of 2001, Lincoln Land Down Syndrome Support Group, Inc., was incorporated in Illinois as a not-for-profit corporation and subsequently became a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. In 2004, Lincoln Land Down Syndrome Society, Inc., adopted the assumed business name of the Lincoln Land Down Syndrome Society (LLDSS) and has continued to operate under that name since its adoption.

LLDSS holds regular monthly meetings in Springfield at which there are general discussions amongst group members regarding their particular life experiences and the activities in which they and their family are involved. We also present programs and provide speakers regarding subjects which are of particular interest to our members, as well as other families having a member with disabilities other than Down syndrome.

In December of 2000, a group of families, several of whom are also members of LLDSS, began to meet informally to conduct athletic activities (e.g., basketball, bowling, etc.) designed to help children with developmental disabilities, including Down syndrome, prepare for the local Special Olympics annual competition. That group, which now includes over 30 individuals with disabilities, shares the same goal as LLDSS which is to promote awareness, acceptance and inclusion of people with disabilities and to provide them with every opportunity possible. As both groups are working toward common goals, such group became a part of LLDSS in November of 2005, and conducts its activities as the “Chatham Area Special Athletics.”

Buddy Walk

The LLDSS principal fundraising activity and primary public event is through its annual Buddy Walk® held in the fall of each year at Southwind Park in Springfield. The Buddy Walk was developed by the National Down Syndrome Society in 1995 to celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness Month in October and to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome. The Buddy Walk has grown from 17 walks in 1995 to nearly 300 walks planned for 2010 worldwide, and we are proud to be an affiliate of NDSS. As an affiliate, a portion of all of the funds raised through our Buddy Walk are paid to NDSS and are used to benefit local programs and services as well as national education, research and advocacy programs. All of the remaining funds raised during the Buddy Walk are used by LLDSS to support our programs and activities and in furthering our goal of promoting awareness, acceptance, inclusion and providing opportunities for children and adults with Down syndrome.

Programs & Activities

Primary programs and activities include providing swim lessons for individuals with special needs through the local YMCA and scholarships for children to attend various camps, classes and summer programs. LLDSS also holds social activities and gatherings for members and their extended families. LLDSS donates to other groups or causes which provide benefit and support to people with Down syndrome including UCP and the Springfield Parks Foundation for the purchase of accessible playground equipment at Springfield’s Washington Park.

Annual Golf Outing

LLDSS holds an annual golf outing in May of each year. We hope that our golf outing offers another opportunity to further our goal of promoting awareness, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome. We welcome anyone interested in joining LLDSS or in partnering with us to help promote our programs.

For more information on LLDSS or Chatham Area Special Athletics, please call (217) 415-8716.

Executive Board

President – Deb Gossrow
Vice President – Amanda Workman

Treasurer – Mallory Fairless
Secretary – Lynn Evans

Board of Directors

Patrick Allen
Rebecca Stewart
Jonathan Mies
Jane Nicoletta
Tara Owen
Pam Rigby

Brandy Santiago
Laura Horstman
Ben Simpson
Aimee Veith
Ann Wells                                                         
Josh Stewart