Community Link Announces Buddy Walk Celebrating 50 Years

April 13, 2022

Community Link is thrilled to announce that its 16th Annual Buddy Walk will be held on Saturday, October 8 at Northside Park in Breese, IL.

This year’s Buddy Walk holds extra meaning than years’ past, as the event will be the highlight of the year-long celebration of Community Link’s 50th anniversary.

The Community Link Buddy Walk will once again fill the streets of Breese this fall. The event occurs in Down syndrome awareness month (October), and it celebrates the uniqueness of all of our loved ones with Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities.

The Buddy Walk was established by the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) in 1995 to raise awareness and support programs for those with Down syndrome. Community Link is proud to have one of the larger walks in the country to support local programs while contributing 2.5% of proceeds to NDSS for national initiatives.

Each year the Buddy Walk has been held, the community has shown great support for the cause. In 2021, an impressive $129,000 was raised by over 1100 registered walkers, with the collaboration of team captains, volunteers, sponsors, staff, clients, and attendees. Community Link is ready to carry this message through the town once again with a goal of raising $175,000 to continue to provide opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities.

This year, the walk will kick off the festivities in the morning, and the celebration will carry into the afternoon. During the day, Community Link will honor individuals and families who have been part of the organization’s legacy. More details about the day’s festivities will be shared in the coming months.

Anticipation is building within Community Link as the event gets finalized, but this year, there is a lot of other excitement going around. Community Link is looking to the community and volunteers to be actively involved in the planning.

Since 1972, Community Link has been providing resources and services that were previously unavailable to people with developmental disabilities. Now, 50 years later, Community Link is looking back on how it has grown, but is also looking ahead.

As the participants grow on a daily basis, through the work they do and support they receive, so too has Community Link grown over its half century of operation. Community Link currently provides services to approximately 200 developmentally disabled people, as well as children.

The first services started in 1971 in Carlyle. Community Link was originally a sheltered workshop, set up as a satellite of Kaskaskia Workshop, and there were 27 participants and six staff members. Program expansion and overcrowding led to the relocation to Breese in 1982.

From that original, lone location, the organization has now grown to three main locations (two in Breese and one in Fairview Heights). As the number of locations grew over time, the services provided also grew.

Community Link offers services for all ages, from Infant Programs (like Early Head Start) to Adult Programs (like production work). On top of that, the organization now has nine CILA (community integrated living arrangement) homes where over 50 participants reside as our neighbors.

Each service provided has the goal of helping the participants grow and become more independent. That mission hasn’t changed in 50 years, and it will not change as Community Link looks ahead to many more decades of service. 

While the 50-year mark is something for the organization and its participants to celebrate, it is also something for the local communities to proudly celebrate. Without the support of the communities for 50 years, Community Link couldn’t continue to provide these services. 

Community Link, a non-profit organization and proud United Way member agency, is dedicated to enhancing the lives of individuals with disabilities through a person-centered approach that promotes self-directed living choices and community integration opportunities. The mission of Community Link is to offer opportunities for growth and independence for people with developmental disabilities. For more information, please visit our website at