Friday, September 9, 2011

Be A Best Buddy

I want to take some time to feature an amazing organization called BEST BUDDIES. It is a non-profit organization and according to their web site they are "dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).


Founded in 1989 by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, Best Buddies is a vibrant, international organization that has grown from one original chapter to almost 1,500 middle school, high school, and college chapters worldwide. Best Buddies programs engage participants in each of the 50 United States, and in 50 countries around the world. Best Buddies’ seven formal programs – Best Buddies Middle Schools, High Schools, Colleges, Citizens, e-Buddies, Jobs and Ambassadors – positively impact nearly 700,000 individuals with and without disabilities worldwide. Best Buddies volunteers annually contribute, at no cost to their communities, support services that equate to more than $164 million USD.

As a result of their involvement with Best Buddies, people with IDD secure rewarding jobs, live on their own, become inspirational leaders, and make lifelong friendships."
Sounds amazing to me. This is an organization that is close to my heart and their most recent event to raise funds is taking place TOMORROW here on the Central Coast of California! From Carmel to San Simeon - ending at Hearst Castle! Former first Lady of California Maria Shriver has assembled a fabulous team to ride/walk/run for the Best Buddies Hearst Castle Challenge; including Nancy O'Dell ( TV Personality: Co-Host of Entertainment Tonight, Co-Host Your Own Show - Oprah Winfrey Network and two time Author)

Nancy told me why the Best Buddies organization is so close to heart. Her Aunt Ellen had Down Syndrome and she is riding her honor tomorrow. She expressed "I had my own best buddy-my Aunt Ellen. As you know, she was a person who had Down Syndrome. She lived with my grandparents and growing up, she was a wonderful friend for me. Oh the hours we spent playing when I would go visit my grandparentsl. We would play the piano and organ, shoot basketball, play catch and putt-putt golf, go bowling, or just watch tv. She would ask me questions all the time like: What can't go to school like you? Why can't I be a cheerleader too? Why can't I be in a school band? I didn't have any answers for her. I remember taking some of the questions to my grandfather, but I'll never forget his answer when I asked him "Why did God make her the way he did?". He answered with: "Because he knew what a good friend she could be to you."

Nancy with her Aunt Ellen

Aunt Ellen had a lot of love to give the world, but most of the world didn't know what she had to offer. She made them feel uncomfortable and they went ahead and organized ball games without ever asking her to be on the team. They had no idea what a great friend she could be. Well a lot has changed since Aunt Ellen was a girl. And so much of that has to do with what the Shriver family has done...from Special Olympics to Best Buddies. Best Buddies has close to 1500 chapters around the world, has impacted nearly 700,000 participants and as a result of their involvement with BB, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have secured rewarding jobs, live on their own, have become inspirational leaders, and have made lifelong friendships. I thank Best Buddies for that...for making a difference in so many lives!

So what are you waiting for??? Want to be a best Buddy? Make a donation to Team Maria for Nancy O'Dell's ride tomorrow HERE

Just a few clicks and a few dollars could help so many! It is an organization close to me heart as well! xo

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