ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Still sore from the night before, Red Wings center Luke Glendening didn’t let last night’s game with the Boston Bruins keep him from participating in the one-mile Buddy Walk on Sunday afternoon.
Glendening returned to Ann Arbor — where he spent his college years at the University of Michigan — as grand marshal of the 10th annual walk hosted by the Down Syndrome Support Team in Gallup Park.
“It’s fun to be here, it’s a really cool event,” he said. “I’ve been doing my research on the event, I hadn’t heard of it. It’s special to be here and it’s fun to see so many people out here supporting it.”
The Buddy Walk is one of more than 250 events planned in cities throughout the country this fall that promote acceptance and inclusion of all people with Down syndrome. The event expected to host more than 800 people including those with Down syndrome, their families, friends, co-workers and supporters.
Through the community initiative Gametime with Glendening, he will continue his efforts by hosting a child with Down syndrome and his or her family at every Red Wings home game during the 2014-15 season with four donated tickets through the Down Syndrome Guild of Southeast Michigan and Down Syndrome Support Team.
“I’m just excited that they’re going to get an opportunity to come watch a game," he said. "I mean they’re exciting to watch and for some of them it’s probably the only opportunity to watch them, so I’m excited to have them."
Glendening’s support of children with Down syndrome stems from his AHL days with the Grand Rapids Griffins. He spent two days a week working with children in a special needs class at East Grand Rapids Middle School where he’s convinced he got more out of it than the kids in the program did.
“There was a kid named Jackson and he’d watch the games last year,” Glendening said. “The teacher called me and she’s like, ‘you’ve gotta make sure your helmet stops falling off because the kid is going crazy.’ She said every time it gets rough, he’s always trying to protect me through the TV, so stuff like that always sticks with you.”