Virginia Beach first-grader travels to New York with a message: ‘I can’ is your source for free local news and information in Virginia Beach

James Grunwald will travel to New York this weekend to see a video he's featured in. (Photo of Virginia Beach Public Schools)
James Grunwald will travel to New York this weekend to see a video he’s featured in. (Photo courtesy of Virginia Beach City Public Schools)

A Virginia Beach boy is travelling to Times Square with a message: “I can.”

James Grunwald, an 8-year-old Linkhorn Park Elementary School student, will be featured in a video on display in Times Square Saturday. The video, comprised of photos, will kick off the Buddy Walk — a national event started in 1995 to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome. The one-mile walk is noncompetitive, and leads right into Central Park. 

The event falls in time for Down Syndrome Awareness Month in October.

The video, which features children, teenagers and adults with Down syndrome, is put together by the National Down Syndrome Society.

Nearly 2,000 vied for a spot in the video but only 400 were accepted. Still, the video is said to last almost 45 minutes.

For the photo contest, Grunwald and his mother Dawn submitted a photo of James holding a book he wrote and illustrated titled “I Can.” In the photo, he’s smiling ear to ear, holding up a colorful cover of the book.

The book’s title echoes the spirit of Linkhorn Park Elementary, Virginia Beach City Public Schools spokesperson Jeff Barba said.

“We love our kids and we’re going to support them and put them in a position so they can succeed,” he said.

Grunwald’s mother Dawn also made note of the welcoming environment at Linkhorn, where he is in first grade. Both parents and peers have been supportive of James, she said in a statement.

“Some parents have expressed to us how much their children talk about James at home and care for him,” she said.

The family of five will be traveling to New York City to see the video themselves this Saturday.

Kate Mishkin: 757-490-2750 or Follow her on Twitter at @KateMishkin