- Mike Rutledge Staff Writer
Allie Gruenschlaeger of Hamilton’s Lindenwald neighborhood is only 2, but she already has her own army.
And she’s so adorable, photos of her will appear soon on the gigantic video board above New York City’s Times Square and on local billboards in support of Down Syndrome Awareness Month.
Both images will support the National Down Syndrome Society’s Buddy Walks.
“The reason we’re so passionate about the Down Syndrome Association is because they have connected us to various families with children born the same year that Allie was,” said her mother, Robin Mueller. “We stay in touch, and we’ve made some great friends.”
The organization also gives yearly training and events “to get our kids ready to live independent and productive lives,” Mueller said.
“And we have a connection on Facebook, where we can ask families questions,” she said. “So it’s like if your child is having surgery, or has an illness, you can ask questions about what was it like, or what different things to try before having the surgery.”
Allie’s image will appear over Times Square on Sept. 16, as part of New York City’s Buddy Walk, one of such events in more than 275 cities nationwide, with others around the world.
A different photograph of Allie and Robin is appearing on Greater Cincinnati billboards to announce the local Buddy Walk.
Cincinnati’s Buddy Walk will take place at 9 a.m. Sept. 9 at Sawyer Point.
“Allie is so special to me,” said Stacy Sandlin, who has photographed Allie since the girl was one month old. “My Facebook followers as well as my family and friends all look forward to seeing pictures of Allie and seeing how much she has grown and the new accomplishments that she has mastered.”
“Allie always has such a pure and honest joy,” added Sandlin, who is in her 19th year as a teacher for Hamilton City Schools. “She owns a big piece of my heart.”
Aside from getting into everything — a favorite activity is pulling clothes out of drawers — the toddler enjoys playing with her brother; spending time in pools and bath tubs; being outdoors; and spending time with children her age.
Aside from her mother, Allie lives with her father, Alan Gruenschlaeger and her 5-year-old brother, Ryan, who attends St. Joseph Consolidated School.
Allie was born eight weeks premature, weighing 2 pounds, 3 ounces.
“People have been following her story pretty much since birth — people that I work with and just neighbors and family members,” Mueller said.
Allie had six surgeries before turning 2 years old, five of them before turning 1.
“This is actually Allie’s second Buddy Walk,” Mueller said. “Allie’s 2, but her first year she was unable to participate because she was at Cincinnati Children’s (Hospital Medical Center), having surgery.”
Allie’s team for the Cincinnati Buddy Walk is called Allie’s Army, and which is raising money for the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati.
“We’re almost at $3,000 (raised),” Mueller said.