The good news is, unlike so many other community events this year, the annual SMILE Mile to benefit SMILE on Down Syndrome will happen as scheduled this Saturday (October 3rd, 2020) at the Vanderburgh County 4-H Fairgrounds. What's the bad news? There isn't any! But, that doesn't mean the COVID-19 pandemic hasn't had at least some effect on how this year's event will play out.

In a normal year, we'd all gather together at the Fairgrounds with the SMILE on Down Syndrome self-advocates and walk together along the one mile course. Of course 2020 has been anything but a normal year, and packing several hundred people together, even though they'd be outside, isn't the safest idea. The photo above from a previous walk proves how difficult it would be to try and get everyone to practice social distancing.

With that challenge in mind, and more importantly the health and safety of the self-advocates we're all there to celebrate, organizers have decided to flip the script, so to speak, and make this year's event more like a parade.

Similar to what Chemo Buddies did with this year's HopeFest, the SMILE Mile will place supporters (us) along the one mile route, socially distanced with masks of course, while the self advocates parade past us in vehicles.

The parade isn't the only event taking place that morning. Organizer Nikki Davis is combining this year's Mile with another annual SMILE on Down Syndrome event, Trucks & Heroes, which gives visitors the chance to explore police, fire, EMT, and military vehicles. Those vehicles will now be parked along the parade route with the other spectators.

Parking runs from 9:00 until 10:30 a.m. when the parade is scheduled to start. There will also be a half pot with tickets available for purchase from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. with the drawing schedule to happen at the conclusion of ticket sales.

Nikki is hoping for a big turnout this year, so encourage your friends, family, classmates, whoever to join you for what will be a beautiful day to celebrate our self advocates right here in the Tri-State.

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