If you have ever considered hiring someone with special needs, you NEED to read this mom’s letter


I received this letter from a parent whose son is involved with our Best Buddies Jobs program in Miami Beach. Joni’s message is a strong testament to the determination of our participants to be part of an inclusive workplace that allows them to fulfill their professional goals. Our Jobs staff is dedicated to building strong relationships between people with special needs and the companies who hire them.  I challenge every business leader that reads this to consider hiring through Best Buddies Jobs by visiting www.imintohire.org. Are you In To Hire?

Anthony K. Shriver
Founder and Chairman, Best Buddies International

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Dear Anthony,

As you know, up until a few months ago, I was the Assistant Mayor of Bal Harbour. In that capacity, I represented Bal Harbour on the Miami-Dade County League of Cities and began working with its Executive Director, Richard Kuper, and Best Buddies in trying to secure employment for adults in the municipalities within the League. I am very proud to say that many municipalities have stepped up and are employing a number of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, with more openings forthcoming. Working with Andrea Schonenberg and Kevin Devine has been not only productive, but rewarding and gratifying to me as well. These individuals truly care and go even more than that extra mile. And although I am no longer the Assistant Mayor, I am committed to continuing my involvement with this partnership.

My initial intention of being involved comes from the fact that I have a son, Billy, that has some special needs and I know firsthand how important it is for him to be employed. He was living in Cambridge, Massachussetts and commuted via two trains for over an hour to a Whole Foods Market in Brighton. Yet he went to work everyday with a smile on his face, a great attitude, and a sense of self worth. And with all that snow, he never missed a day’s work!

Billy decided, on his own doing, to return home last year to be close to his family. He began working at a nearby supermarket as a grocery bagger and was content until his schedule had him working nights, weekends and shifts beyond midnight, mopping floors and cleaning bathrooms. He was not happy, and one day announced, “I don’t want to bag groceries my whole life.”

I never thought that we would need the services for Billy that we were trying to get for others. But after discussing Billy’s situation with Kevin, he was adamant in pursuing something that better fit Billy’s skills. Kevin worked hard in securing employment for Billy and keeping us informed throughout the entire process. He is a very kind and caring person. Best Buddies is lucky to have him and we feel so fortunate to have had this help from Best Buddies.

Because of Best Buddies, Billy is now working at the City of Miami Beach as an Office Assistant. Words cannot express how his life has changed. He is glowing and happy. He leaves our home at 8:15 A.M. to take the bus to be at work at 10 A.M., even though it’s only a one-hour commute. He wants to be sure he is always on time. He has regular hours enabling him to make plans with friends and family. He has structure in his life that he so desperately needed. And most importantly, he feels good about himself as a contributing member of society. I had the opportunity to speak with his supervisor Jackie last week and she said he is doing a great job and everyone loves him. Not only is Billy elated, but so is his entire family!

I felt compelled to write this letter to you Anthony, to thank you from the bottom of my heart, for all that you do for this special population of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. You have people like Kevin and Andrea who truly care, you run this organization with passion, and you invite all involved into your home. And most importantly, you show the love in what you do on your face and in your hugs, and that makes all the difference!

With sincere appreciation,

Joni D. Blachar

The 26th Annual Best Buddies International Leadership Conference Packs in Loads of Fun for Student Leaders in Bloomington, Indiana


Presented by C.A. Hartnell

  • Kid Quill, Indiana’s top emcee in 2014 and up-and-coming artist rocks the crowd
  • Barbara Torres, Best Buddies Jobs participant of over 20 years, wins “Best Buddies Jobs Employee of the Year Award”
  • Lauren Potter, Best Buddies Ambassador and Star of the TV show “Glee” wins “Spirit of Courage Award”
  • Jewelry brand ALEX and ANI unveils their new arrow of friendship bangle, which stands for friendship and individuality in which proceeds benefits Best Buddies International
  • More than 2,600 people tuned in to watch the Conference, live streamed

Bloomington, IN (July 22, 2015) – Over 2,100 student leaders, volunteers, and staff from Best Buddies International Website programs around the world participated in the 26th Annual Best Buddies International Leadership Conference: I’M IN presented by C.A. Hartnell, July 17-20 at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. The weekend offered attendees new ideas to share with their chapters’ back home, networking opportunities, and most importantly, lasting friendships.

Indiana University Auditorium Opening Ceremonies | Photo by John David Arroyo, Best Buddies International

Indiana University Auditorium, where over 2,100 people watched the 26th Annual Best Buddies Leadership Conference Opening Ceremonies | Photo by John David Arroyo, Best Buddies International

Read More…

Illinois is In To Hire A Diverse Workforce with the Support of Best Buddies Jobs


Chicago Breakfast

On December 9, 2014, City Club President and Best Buddies Illinois Board Member Jay Doherty and Illinois Senate President John Cullerton hosted an I’m In to Hire breakfast to encourage employers to consider hiring individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn spoke about the importance of this movement of workplace inclusion. Senator Cullerton, also a champion of diversity, signed an Illinois Senate Recognition of the Best Buddies I’m In To Hire campaign when it first launched in October, 2014.

Over 70 corporate representatives attended the breakfast, and almost 20 employers in the Chicago area made a commitment to hire people with different abilities. Read More…

FOX Networks Hires Another Employee with Unique Abilities


Gabby at FOX Networks

Best Buddies Jobs is proud to congratulate Gabby on completing her first month as a Media Librarian at FOX Networks in the Engineering & Operations department! As a Media Librarian, Gabby pulls content from a vault of over one million tapes so that they can be delivered directly to our televisions through FOX channels daily. Once tapes are returned, Gabby is responsible for checking them back in through a comprehensive computer system, and re-shelving the m in their proper place. In such a detail oriented job, Gabby has already thrived and been able to exhibit her outstanding strengths in this position.

Read More…

Join Tom Brady & Challenge Yourself to Change Lives at the 16th Annual Best Buddies Challenge: Hyannis Port


Boston, May 19, 2015 Best Buddies International, a nonprofit dedicated to creating opportunities for friendship, employment and leadership training for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), is pleased to announce that the 16th Annual Best Buddies Challenge: Hyannis Port, will take place on May 29 – 30. More than 2,000 people are expected to participate in the Challenge – a charity walk, run and ride to benefit Best Buddies InternationalTom Brady, New England Patriots Quarterback and Best Buddies Global Ambassador, will serve as Honorary Co-Chair and lead Team Tom Brady to the finish line. Celebrity Chef Guy Fieri and Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III will join Brady as the event’s Honorary Co-Chairs. John Hailer, President & CEO of Natixis Global Asset Management for the Americas & Asia, has committed to serve as the Event Chair. During the event, John Hancock will be honored with the organization’s Spirit of Friendship Award.

“Best Buddies is a fantastic organization with a great message to spread, and I am so proud to support their work,” said Tom Brady. “I hope my role as Honorary Co-Chair will continue to bring attention to the organization’s mission of friendship and inclusion for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities across the world.”

“It’s gratifying to be part of an organization that recognizes the immense potential in people with intellectual and developmental challenges and strives to build a world of inclusion,” said John Hailer, President & CEO of Natixis Global Asset Management for the Americas & Asia. “Civic engagement is everyone’s responsibility, and I look forward to doing my part in this year’s Challenge.”

“We are delighted to be returning to Massachusetts for our sixteenth Challenge and we are thrilled that Tom Brady, Guy Fieri and Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy, III will join us as Honorary Chairmen of this event,” says Anthony Kennedy Shriver, Founder and Chairman of Best Buddies International. “Their dedication to the Best Buddies mission of inclusion – along with that of all Challenge participants – has helped bring an even greater awareness to the infinite abilities people with intellectual and developmental disabilities possess.”

Several New England Patriots, past and present, including Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, Tedy Bruschi, Nate Solder, Jerod Mayo, Dan Koppen and Scott Zolak are expected to attend the Tom Brady Football Challenge at Harvard Field; along with Celebrity Chef Guy Fieri.

During halftime, Hublot’s Chief Executive Officer Ricardo Guadalupe and Rick de la Croix, President of Hublot Latin America, will officially launch a new Hublot Limited Edition Best Buddies Cycling timepiece.

“Hublot is honored to partner with Best Buddies, and to support this great cause that makes a significant impact in serving those with intellectual and developmental disabilities around the world. Similar to the Shriver family, Hublot has a long history of serving our local communities,” said Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot. “We are proud to join Anthony Shriver, Tom Brady, and cyclists George Hincapie and Christian Vande Velde to kick off the Best Buddies Challenge, and to announce the launch of our Classic Fusion ‘Best Buddies’ timepiece, for which Hublot will donate a portion of the proceeds from all sales to Best Buddies.”

The game will be followed by the Guy Fieri Celebrity Chef Tailgate Party, hosted by Guy Fieri, a best-selling cookbook author and host of several Food Network shows, including “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” and “Guy’s Big Bite.Steve DiFillippo of Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse and eleven of Boston’s top chefs, will be partnered with Buddy Sous chefs to prepare this fabulous feast.

During Friday night’s festivities, Best Buddies will present John Hancock with Best Buddies International’s esteemed “Spirit of Friendship Award” for the company’s outstanding generosity and visionary leadership in employing individuals with intellectual disabilities and contributing to a more inclusive work force. Since 2009, Team John Hancock’s 439 Challenge cyclists have raised a total of $823,188 to support Best Buddies’ mission of friendship and inclusion for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

On Saturday, May 30, hundreds of cyclists, including professional cyclists George Hincapie, Christian Vande Velde, Ted King and Cameron Wurf – will take the starting line at Boston’s John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum for the picturesque 100-mile ride portion of the Best Buddies Challenge: Hyannis Port, from Boston to Hyannis Port. The Challenge is open to participants of all ages and abilities and is designed to showcase the Best Buddies mission in action. It also features alternative 50 and 20-mile cycling routes, as well as the Carl Lewis Challenge, a 5K run or walk.

Several other celebrities, professional athletes and special guests are also expected to participate in the Challenge, including: “Glee’s” Lauren Potter, who is also a Best Buddies Board Member, Actress Maria Menounos, Actor Michael Chiklis, American Horror Story Actress and Best Buddies supporter Jamie Brewer and Comedian and Actor Dane Cook; Miss USA 2014 Nia Sanchez; Miss Teen USA 2014 K. Lee Graham; Miss Massachusetts USA 2015 Polikseni Manxhari; Miss Massachusetts Teen USA 2015 Sophie Baird; Miss Maine USA 2015 Heather Elwell; Miss Maine Teen USA 2015 Syler Gaudette; Miss New Hampshire USA 2015 Samantha Poirier; and Miss New Hampshire Teen USA 2015 Eleanor Lathram. They will all be invited to compete in the “Friendship Races” on tandem bicycles.

The Challenge will be capped off by a New England-style clambake and private concert by musical group 38 Special which all participants and special guests are invited to attend.

In addition to Brady, Congressman Kennedy and Fieri, Steve Finch, John Hancock; Patrick Flavin, The TJX Companies, Inc.; and Ed Ansin, President, Sunbeam Television, Corp. have committed to serve as Challenge Co-Chairs.

This year’s Challenge sponsors include: Hyannis Port Club Sponsors BNY Mellon, Hublot, Pepsi, Seyfarth Shaw Attorneys LLP, Natixis Global Asset Management, Pepsi-Cola Company, The TJX Companies, Inc and Greenberg Traurig LLP; Cape Club Sponsors CVS Health, John Hancock, NBC/WHDH and Santander Bank; Craigville Beach Club Sponsors Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Bob’s Discount Furniture, Cooking with Kids Foundation, Crescent Capital Group, Eaton Vance Investment Management, EMC, Energi, FIJI Water, the official water of Best Buddies International, The GEO Group Foundation, Inc, Kobi Karp Architecture and Interior Design, Mark Edward Partners, Market Basket, The Parthenon Group, Pilot Freight Services, Putnam Investments, William Grant & Sons, Ltd., Harpoon Brewery; and Media Sponsors Bicycling Magazine, The Boston Globe, CBS Radio/98.5 The Sports Hub, Getty Images, the official photography sponsor of Best Buddies International, Boston Common Magazine/Niche Media, the premier magazine sponsor of Best Buddies International and 90.9 WBUR.

ABOUT BEST BUDDIES INTERNATIONAL:

Best Buddies® is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization 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. Founded in 1989 by Anthony K. Shriver, Best Buddies is a vibrant organization that has grown from one original chapter to more than 1,900 middle school, high school, and college chapters worldwide.

Today, Best Buddies’ eight formal programs — Middle Schools, High Schools, Colleges, Citizens, e-Buddies® , Jobs, Ambassadors, and Promoters — engage participants in each of the 50 states and in over 50 countries, positively impacting the lives of more than 900,000 people with and without disabilities around the world. In many cases, as a result of their involvement with Best Buddies, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities secure rewarding jobs, live on their own, become inspirational leaders, and make lifelong friendships. For more information, please visit http://www.bestbuddies.org, facebook.com/bestbuddies or twitter.com/bestbuddies.

Contact Information:
For media inquiries (including requests for credentials):

Nicole Maddox
305-374-2233 ext. 343
NicoleMaddox@bestbuddies.org

Jeanne Turkheimer
305-374-2233 ext. 215
JeanneTurkheimer@bestbuddies.org

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Best Buddies Jobs: Transforming statistics into positive change for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities


Ruben & Supervisor, Kevin Costello, Corporate Executive Chef at Hobbs Brook

Ruben & Supervisor, Kevin Costello, Corporate Executive Chef at Hobbs Brook

Best Buddies Jobs is one of the organization’s fast growing programs, and for good reason. Currently, 85% of individuals with developmental disabilities do not have a paid community job.* This is in spite of the fact that research shows that by hiring people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), businesses gain dependable, motivated employees and create inclusive cultures that attract desirable talent. In addition, reports find that companies that hire people with IDD for business reasons and are rewarded with business benefits.** Still, almost 43% of people with IDD in the US are living below the poverty line and only 15.5% of these individuals are working; of that, only 19.1% of people with IDD in the US are working in integrated community settings.***

Best Buddies Jobs seeks to transform these statistics into positive change and inclusive opportunities for people with IDD. Over the past few years, the Jobs program has made a significant impact in the disability community; the program has grown into 12 markets nationwide, providing opportunities for independence and financial freedom to employees from Los Angeles to Miami with the support of Best Buddies staff. In Chicago, the program has seen substantial growth recently as employers who have hired individuals with IDD in the community are eager to spread the positive impact these employees have had on their company, culture, and bottom line.

In March , the Chicago Tribune published an article on the success of the Best Buddies Jobs program, specifically highlighting the employment of Shalonda Sanders at Seyfarth Shaw, one of the city’s largest law firms. The article celebrates Sanders’ work ethic, influence on the company’s culture and growth, and promotes awareness for the Best Buddies Jobs program in Chicago, which was just started last year.

In Boston, Best Buddies Jobs regularly celebrates the growth and opportunity the program has provided to individuals in New England. On December 15, 2014 Natixis Global Asset Management was honored by Best Buddies Massachusetts as the 2014 Employer Partner of the Year at the annual Evening of Opportunity. In addition, Untwon Jones, a Best Buddies Jobs participant and Natixis employee for over three years, was honored as the 2014 Employee of the Year. Learn more about this partnership by watching their promotional video below.

Additionally, the Best Buddies Jobs program recently partnered with Hobbs Brook Management. Hobbs Brook Management has been a pioneer in the development of premier office space in the Boston suburbs, building trusted relationships with tenants who rely on them to provide sustainable, high-quality office environments and excellent customer service. The Best Buddies Jobs program has placed an employee in the dining services of one of their buildings outside Boston. Corporate Executive Chef, Paul, shared his feedback on the Jobs program and his work with Ruben, who was hired to run the dishes through the machine, wipe down tables, help to stock the refrigerators, help with various upkeep and tasks in the kitchen and cafeteria.

What does Best Buddies mean to you?

Paul first got involved because of his wife. Her son had autism and she was riding in the Best Buddies Challenge to raise funds and awareness for Best Buddies; this was Paul’s first exposure to the organization. He went on to learn that “we’re all different. You accept those differences because you know we all have something to offer.”

What’s your favorite thing about Best Buddies Jobs?

It gives somebody the opportunity to be the best they can be.

What does it mean to you to have an employee with IDD?

The loyalty and dedication shown by the individual are an inspiration to some of us that take a lot of things for granted.

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Why do you think others should join Best Buddies Jobs and hire people with IDD?

It shows a commitment to breaking down the barriers of differences.

How would you encourage people to get involved?

Experience the events, take an afternoon to go out and support the riders who participate in the national Best Buddies Challenges and learn about the cause. See the mission in action. The immediate successes of what the money raised for these individuals is clear. A $10 donation to the program isn’t that much to most of us, but 1,000 donations of this size is a tremendous asset to the company.”

*Source: National Core Indicators, 2012-2013
**Source: i4cp report 2014
*** Source: American Community Survey

MGM Resorts International Announces Best Buddies Partnership to Promote Employment Opportunities for Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities


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Funded by a $120,000 MGM Resorts donation, the partnership will support job placement while offering on-the-job support

Las Vegas, March. 31st, 2015 – Building on its commitment to workplace diversity and inclusion, MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM) is pleased to announce its partnership with Best Buddies Nevada to promote employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.

With the help of a $120,000 MGM Resorts donation, spanning 2014 and 2015, Best Buddies Nevada will support a candidate selection process that will provide persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) with opportunities for employment in jobs specified by MGM Resorts. For those candidates hired, Best Buddies Nevada will offer special on-the-job training and other workplace support in collaboration with the company. Read More…

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