As the National Down Syndrome Society starts its annual Buddy Walk Saturday, Sept. 18, hundreds of photos of individuals with Down syndrome will be shown up on the bright lights of the billboard in Times Square in New York.

Leading the video is a smiling face known to many in Anacortes, longtime resident Anthony Gegen.

Gegen was scheduled to fly to New York to help start off the annual Buddy Walk, but regulations around COVID-19 mean a virtual event.

The presentation will be live-streamed on the society’s Facebook page from 6:30-7:30 a.m. Pacific Time on Saturday.

“I was so happy,” Gegen said of being chosen to start off the video.

He and his team of supporters filmed a video in Washington Park, one of his favorite places to walk, for the presentation video.

He was submitted to be the ambassador by his godparents, who thought he would be perfect for the role, godmother Patti Nelson said.

He will be out with his team Saturday, walking along with hundreds of other people at their home parks nationwide.

“We are going to pretend Washington Park is Central Park,” Nelson said.

The Buddy Walk raises funds for the Down Syndrome Society.

As of last week, Gegen still held the top fundraising spot. Anthony’s A Team, made up of family and friends, had raised more than $6,000.

Gegen said he enjoys playing sports, participating in Anacortes Community Theatre programs and anything from the 1980s.

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