KARYN ELLEM believes the challenges associated with raising a Down syndrome child are vastly outstripped by its many positives.
"He's very cheeky, but he gets away with a lot because of the cuteness," she said of her six-year-old son, Beau.
Albion Park resident Mrs Ellem is a Down syndrome NSW volunteer.
Last year, she helped resurrect the Buddy Walk Illawarra, which took place in Wollongong.
This year, the event has been renamed Step UP! for Down syndrome.
Step UP! for Down syndrome is a part of a national series of events which bring people with Down syndrome and their families and friends together during Down Syndrome Awareness Week in October.
It also aims to promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with the condition.
It will take place this year on Sunday, October 27 at 10am.
The event is now in its seventh year, and involves participants walking from Stuart Park, along the foreshore to the lighthouse and back for a barbecue, raffle, face painting and entertainment.
Mrs Ellem said last year's Illawarra event, the first since 2008, surprised organisers by drawing more than 300 participants.
They are hoping for an even greater turnout in 2013.
Year one student Beau attends the support unit at Tullimbar Public School.
"The challenge is still communicating with people who don't know him, because his speech isn't clear," his mother said.
"He's 24/7 watch; there are behavioural and safety issues, you just can't leave him unattended.
"He's a very loving, very outgoing little boy.
"As hard as it is, this is what we've been dealt, and you work with it the best you can, and give him a loving home."
The Lake Times is a media sponsor of the Illawarra Step UP! for Down syndrome event.
To find out more, go to downsyndrome.org.au.