Paige and Eleanor: Thankful For Five Years of Friendship

IMG_0678This year marks Paige and Eleanor’s fifth Thanksgiving together. These two friends have made spending time together a part of their holiday tradition, and that’s something these two friends are truly grateful for.

“It just seems natural that we spend Thanksgiving together.”

When Paige and Eleanor were matched through the Best Buddies Citizens program, they really clicked;  therefore, it felt natural for Paige to take Thanksgiving to Eleanor when illness kept Eleanor from traveling to be with her mother one November. Read More…

A&E Network to Premiere New Original Docu-Series ‘Born This Way’ Tuesday, December 8 at 10:00 PM ET/PT




NEW YORK, NY – November 11, 2015 – A&E Network will premiere the new original docu-series “Born This Way,” following a group of seven young adults born with Down syndrome along with their family and friends in Southern California. The six-episode, hour-long series from Bunim-Murray Productions premieres Tuesday, December 8 at 10 PM ET/PT.

Cameras follow the young men and women of “Born This Way,” as they pursue their passions and lifelong dreams, explore friendships, romantic relationships and work, all while defying society’s expectations. In their willingness and courage to openly share their lives, through a lens that is not often shown on television, we learn they have high hopes just like anyone else. The series also gives voice to the parents, allowing them to talk about the joy their son or daughter brings to their family, and the challenges they face in helping them live as independently as possible. Read More…

Maria Shriver and Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom to Return as Honorary Co-Chairs of the 12th Annual Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle

Carmel, CA, Sept. 1, 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 journalist and activist Maria Shriver and Lieutenant Governor of California Gavin Newsom will return as Honorary Co-Chairs of the 12th Annual Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle. More than 2,000 people are expected to participate in the Challenge – a charity walk, run and ride to benefit Best Buddies International – on September 12. Read More…

If you have ever considered hiring someone with a disability, 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 intellectual and developmental disabilities and the companies who hire them.  I challenge every business leader that reads this to consider hiring through Best Buddies Jobs by visiting Are you In To Hire?

Anthony K. Shriver
Founder and Chairman, Best Buddies International


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…

a typical son

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Thought bubbles of inspiration, attempted humor, and most likely a lot of pictures and music. (WARNING: You are the only one reading this.)

Best Buddies Young Leaders Council

Educate, Engage, Empower.


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