F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Families

The Mission of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. is to provide free all-encompassing educational and support services to families who have been impacted by Down Syndrome or other Special Needs; while advocating and promoting community integration.

Our Goals are to provide broad reaching educational services, vital emotional and social support, outreach services, and fun social activities to individuals and families impacted by Down Syndrome or other Special Needs. We proudly serve Hillsborough, Pinellas, & Pasco County.

F.R.I.E.N.D.S. has been a permanent staple of our special needs community since 2007.  We strive to improve our services each year and have a dream of one day opening a brick-and-mortar building, “The F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Center”.  For now, we offer the following programs, services, and activities.


– For parents who received a diagnosis of Down syndrome or other special needs diagnosis, a tote bag that includes:

  • Information from our Tampa Bay area special needs resource vendors and providers. Available in English and Spanish Versions.
  • A F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Resource Guidebook designed to provide parents with important contact information and resources.
  • A USF Resource Guidebook – A statewide resource guide.
  • Multiple brochures and pamphlets from Bay Area special needs resource partners who provide special needs products and services.
  • For our parents we include, a free copy, of the informative book “Babies with Down syndrome, A New Parents Guide” by Susan J. Skallerup. Available in English and Spanish.
  • For baby, we include a cute F.R.I.E.N.D.S. onesie and ABLE United bib. 
HOSPITAL OUTREACH - F.R.I.E.N.D.S. assembles and donates our F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Parent Packets for distribution to eight Tampa Bay NICU’s, who in turn give them to new parents. We donate approximately 50-100 packets each year. 

F.R.I.E.N.D.S. PEER TO PEER – We know all too well the seclusion and exhaustion that comes with raising a child with special needs. We offer in-person and phone support for those who need someone to talk to. 

Tammy Whatley, Paula Marsell, host BABY FRIENDS. A fun playgroup for our birth to 5yrs old’s where parents can meet other parents who are on the same journey. Held at We Rock the Spectrum in Brandon and Largo. 

Kathy Boisseau, with daughter Ava and son Finn
offer our 6yrs to 12yr old’s a fun get-together at the park, pool, or other fun spot. Meet other parents while the kids make life long F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

F.R.I.E.N.D.S. ADULT DANCES – a fun dance for our adults 15yrs and up. The popular dances are offered to give our isolated adults a chance to socialize and get together with their peers. Free pizza and refreshments are served.  The dances are held in Riverview and Clearwater.

ZOOM PROGRAMSweating with Sunshine 
  • Good Vibes – Every month we get together with F.R.I.E.N.D.S. and hang out listening to our favorite music, meeting new friends, and just hanging out.
CONECTANDO AMIGOS LATINO - Conectando Amigos Latinos fue creado para ayudar a las familias latinas que tienen un ser querido con síndrome de Down. Por lo general se reúnen cada tercer jueves del mes para las actividades sociales e invitar a los oradores invitados para hablar de temas que afectan a nuestras familias. SPANISH OUTREACH – Gloria Rameriz 813-766-8061.

MOM’S NIGHT OUT – We meet at local restaurants and have dinner and relax with FRIENDS.

F.R.I.E.N.D.S. SCHLOARSHIPS - F.R.I.E.N.D.S. provides scholarship funds to our members in need. If you would like our assistance, please contact us via email at info@friendssupport.org.



You can’t have a Non-profit without fundraising, it’s how F.R.I.E.N.D.S provides all of the programs and services offered and we are extremely grateful to those who help us make it through the year. Please join us as a guest, volunteer, or host to one of the following, fun, fundraisers!

F.R.I.E.N.D.S. BUDDY WALK - October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month and our community Advocates and Celebrates for our loved ones with our annual F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Buddy Walk.  The Buddy Walk is our largest fundraiser and 97% of the funds raised go to our support groups, services, and fun activities.  The other 3% goes to The National Down Syndrome Society so that they may continue their national advocacy, services, and programs. Join us as a Team, Walker, Volunteer, Sponsor, or Vendor.  It’s a wonderful day to get together, meet new families, and make new F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

– For your birthday, you can start a fundraiser on Facebook to benefit F.R.I.E.N.D.S. This year we have had over $2000 donated to us by wonderful people who think of us on their special day.

Want to host a fundraiser but can’t think of what to do??Contact us and we will help you put one together, info@friendssupport.org.

All funds raised go right back into our services and programs, plus covers the costs of our printing, yearly event Insurance, state, and IRS Fees, office/phone, and storage facility fees.



When our budget allows, we will have a couple of fun picnics, parties, and participate in a couple of parades.

MARCH - WORLD DOWN SYNDROME DAY PICNIC AT ZOOTAMPA FLORIDA – Joins us for lunch, meet new families, and enjoy all the Zoo has to offer! 

APRIL – SPRING PICNIC – Enjoy a day at the park with a fun Egg Hunt.


JUNE – FATHER’S DAY PANCAKE BREAKFAST- We celebrate Dad with this fundraiser which offers an "ALL YOU CAN EAT" pancake breakfast!

JULY – SUMMER POOL PARTY – Meet other families and F.R.I.E.N.D.S. at the Highland Rec Center in Largo, don’t forget your sunscreen!

OCTOBER – F.R.I.E.N.D.S. BUDDY WALK – It’s not only a fundraiser, it’s also a really fun “family reunion” as ourfamilies who can’t wait to get together and show off their loved ones! Its also F.R.I.E.N.D.S. biggest Fundraiser and the funds raised dictate what programs and events we can offer in the upcoming year.  Please help us raise the funds needed to continue providing all of the wonderful programs, activities, and events that we offer! 

DECEMBER - we celebrate the holidays with our families and F.R.I.E.N.D.S. with our Holiday Party, Christmas Dances, and Breakfast with Santa.


World Down Syndrome Day 3/21!

World Down Syndrome Day was started in 2006 and marks March 21st (3/21) as the day the voices of people with Down syndrome, and those who live and work with them, grows louder.

Down Syndrome International encourages our friends all over the world to choose your own activities and events to help raise awareness of what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome, and how people with Down syndrome play a vital role in our lives and communities.

All people with Down syndrome must have opportunities to contribute to the community and live valued lives, included on a full and equal basis with others, in all aspects of society.

You can help explain how people with Down syndrome can and do make meaningful contributions throughout their lives, whether in schools, workplaces, living in the community, public and political life, culture, media, recreation, leisure, and sport.

Explain how negative attitudes and a lack of knowledge about their potential as individuals prevent people with Down syndrome from having opportunities to make contributions.

Empower people with Down syndrome (and those supporting them) to advocate for their rights and opportunities to make meaningful contributions and

Reach out to key stakeholders including educators, employers, public authorities, media, and the wider community to ensure they see the benefits of enabling people with Down syndrome to make meaningful contributions and encourage these stakeholders to bring about change and disseminate this message. 

You can take part simply by sharing details of WDSD activities or by photos, messages, quotes or in any way you choose. Wear funny mismatched socks to work and when people notice tell them about WDSD. Join F.R.I.E.N.D.S. in our Funny Socks Contest, you could win your team $50 for the best picture!!

We hope you will consider making a tax-deductible donation to F.R.I.E.N.D.S. All donations will receive a tax-deductible receipt.


HOSPITAL OUTREACH/PARENT PACKET DISTRIBUTION – We need volunteers to contact and deliver our Parent Packets when needed to bay area NICU’s.

EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH TO OUR SCHOOLS – We need an Educational Outreach Volunteer to give presentations to local schools and our School Board.

BUDDY WALK COMMITTEE – We need Volunteers to serve on our Buddy Walk Committee as we Advocate, Educate, and Celebrate, National Down Syndrome Month. 

LEGISLATION ADVOCATE NEEDED - F.R.I.E.N.D.S. knows that legislative advocacy is critical to protecting the rights of our members. We believe building strong relationships and working with elected officials will allow F.R.I.E.N.D.S. to have a strong voice on issues which impact people with Down syndrome. F.R.I.E.N.D.S. partners with other Down syndrome and disability organizations to address local, regional, and national legislation. We are looking to be more active in Florida federal level in developing our legislative platform. We believe that the best way to pass and sustain bills is for our members to act and contact their representatives about the issues they care about. Learn more about how you can be a legislative advocate.