VU women participate in the "Buddy Walk"

Student-athletes from the women's basketball team took a walk in the park on Saturday morning, but it wasn't training for the basketball preseason, which begins in just two weeks. Rather, they were volunteering their time at the "Buddy Walk" in Centennial Park.

The Buddy Walk is an event sponsored by the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee. Besides being a fund-raiser for the Association, it's also an outdoor festival for family, friends, and the Nashville community.

For the Walk, families with children with Down Syndrome form teams to show their support and to walk together. Prizes are given to the teams with the most members, the most fund-raising, and the most creativity.

Before the walk begins, there's entertainment including live music, carnival-style games, and face painting. And that's where the volunteers from the women's basketball team come into the picture. They were the designated face painters for the event.

The Vanderbilt volunteers were freshman guard/forward Tina Wirth, junior guard Caroline Williams, freshman guard Holly Rogers, junior guard Cherish Stringfield, junior guard Dee Davis, and senior post Nicole Jules.

Although their primary assignment was face painting, any time Vanderbilt student-athletes are out in public, they're likely to be asked for autographs and pictures, and Saturday was no exception.

Junior guard Dee Davis, freshman guard/forward Tina Wirth and freshman guard Holly Rogers discuss colors and designs with two "customers" for face painting.

They decide on the popular kitty cat look. Holly carefully paints one of the kitty cats while Tina and the first kitty cat watch.

Senior post Nicole Jules was one of the designated face painters . . .

. . . and so was junior guard Caroline Williams.

Junior guard Cherish Stringfield points out the heart she painted.

Caroline painted the kitty cat faces on these two girls.

Then the Walk began. Inside the costumes are girls from the Hume-Fogg Academic High School basketball team.

Dee is used to directing traffic on the basketball court and naturally stepped into the role of directing traffic in Centennial Park while the Walk was in progress.

The Vanderbilt players cheered for the participants as they walked by. Holly and Tina greet a young participant.

Nicole and Tina greet the last team of walkers at the end of the Walk.

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Photos copyright 2005 by Whitney D for Top Stories