Voya employees highlight the varying needs of those with Down syndrome during the NDSS flagship walk.
NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–$VOYA #DEI–Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), announced today that several Voya families with personal connections to the disabilities community are participating in the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) New York City Buddy Walk on Saturday, Sept. 17. Each of the families, representing different stages and experiences, are sharing their individual stories to help raise awareness and benefit people with Down syndrome and their caregivers.
Starting at 9:30 a.m., ET, more than 2,000 people, including individuals with Down syndrome and their families and friends, are expected to walk a one-mile course to promote inclusion and acceptance. The New York City walk, sponsored by Voya Cares®, will begin in Times Square with the annual video presentation on a huge jumbotron. Walkers will then join up in Central Park at the Great Hill, where the walk will kick off shortly before 1 p.m. The event will honor Nico Taylor, a son of Olympians, and TikTok influencer Mallory Snellen as grand marshals, wrapping up by 3 p.m.
Voya families participating in the walk represent people with myriad experiences, including Voya’s Chief Client Officer Bill Harmon, whose 21-year-old son, William, has Down syndrome and has just entered the workforce.
“NDSS has supported our family since William’s birth, but as he turned 21 and transitioned out of the school system, we benefited from their guidance to help prepare ourselves and William for the next phase of his life,” Harmon said. “Years earlier, we began evaluating his needs, strengths and skills and put a plan in place to help him move from being a full-time student to a full-time employee, while maintaining his independence and quality of life. By assuring his future financial security and life-long care, it enabled my wife and me to plan our retirements and the legacy that we want to leave for our three children.”
Voya team member Kay Lee Mynatt and her 8-month-old son, Spencer, who has Down syndrome, are traveling from Indianapolis to attend the NYC Buddy Walk — a first for her budding family of four. For Kay Lee, husband Nick, their 3-year-old son Max, and baby brother Spencer, the walk is a chance to underscore the needs of younger families who are juggling new experiences, such as specific medical care needs, daycare, and finding local support.
“NDSS has provided my family a welcoming and friendly introduction to the Down syndrome community, which has allowed us to be less afraid of the unknowns of Spencer’s development, since we know we have a great support system to fall back on when we ultimately have questions. It has allowed us to worry less about his future and really enjoy the stage of life we are in as a new family of four,” Kay Lee said.
Sandra McGrath, a project manager at Voya, shares the experiences of her 54-year-old brother, James Gauthier, who is preparing for a different stage of life: retirement.
“NDSS and Voya Cares have both helped me structure James’ finances and enhance his quality of life to give him a comfortable life doing the things he loves,” Sandie explained. “Although he is looking forward to his retirement, it’s important that he stay healthy and as independent as possible in his apartment, while maintaining his lifestyle involving all of the activities he enjoys.”
Voya’s support of the NDSS Buddy Walk program aligns with the company’s commitment to people with disabilities and their caregivers through Voya Cares, an extensive program and hub of resources that aims to ensure all individuals can secure their financial futures.
About Voya Financial®
Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), is a leading health, wealth and investment company that provides products, solutions and technologies that enable a better financial future for its clients, customers and society. Serving the needs of 14.3 million individual, workplace and institutional clients, Voya has approximately 6,000 employees and had $644 billion in total assets under management and administration as of June 30, 2022. Certified as a “Great Place to Work” by the Great Place to Work® Institute, Voya is purpose-driven and is equally committed to conducting business in a way that is socially, environmentally, economically and ethically responsible. Voya has earned recognition as: one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies® by the Ethisphere Institute; a member of the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index; and a “Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion” on the Disability Equality Index. For more information, visit voya.com. Follow Voya Financial on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter @Voya.
About Voya Cares®
As an extension of Voya’s vision and mission to help all Americans have the quality of life they seek in retirement, the Voya Cares program is committed to being a leader in making a positive difference in the lives of individuals with disabilities and special needs — as well as their families, caregivers and other providers — by offering a depth of resources focused on education, planning and solutions. Visit Voyacares.com to learn more.
The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) is the leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome. NDSS envisions a world in which all people with Down syndrome have the opportunity to enhance their quality of life, realize their life aspirations, and become valued members of welcoming communities. Founded in 1979, NDSS supports and advocates for the Down syndrome community by focusing on three key areas of programming: Resources & Support, Policy & Advocacy, and Community Engagement. Within these focus areas NDSS engages in various activities, events, and programs such as the National Advocacy & Policy Center, which seeks to create systemic change through engaged advocacy; the National Buddy Walk® Program, which honors and celebrates individuals with Down syndrome in local communities across the world and other initiatives that provide support, informational resources and community engagement opportunities for individuals with Down syndrome and those who support them. Visit www.ndss.org for more information about NDSS.
About the National Buddy Walk®
Since 1995, the National Buddy Walk Program has been the premier Down syndrome awareness, advocacy, and peer-to-peer fundraising program in the world. It was created by the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome and to raise funds for local and national incentives to support the Down syndrome community. Today, more than 200 Buddy Walk events take place in cities across the country and in select international locations. To learn more and find a Buddy Walk near you, visit buddywalk.org.
Natasha D. Smith