Celebrate BB Honduras
In 1999, Reina Perez and her family were introduced to the Best Buddies International organization. At that time, Reina was so busy with her commitment to Special Olympics; she had to wait to explore this new idea. She did, however, recognize how Best Buddies programs could influence the lives of not only her daughter, Milagros, a Special Olympics athlete but all of the incredible individuals she had met through her involvement with the Special Olympics. In 2006, when the time was right, Reina reached out to Best Buddies International and began taking the steps towards establishing Best Buddies programs. The first program was launched in 2007 at the Mayan School.
Another of Reina’s children, Flor, was also instrumental in the launch of Best Buddies. Here she shares her story about her experiences that inspired her to help bring the Best Buddies movement to Honduras.
The story I would like to share is about my experience with my sister and her friends, the way special people have helped me in my own life, and the experience we gain by sharing and learning from them.
My sister, Milagro, who is 9 years older than I, has been in charge of taking care of my brother and me since we were babies. It was my first experience seeing how someone with an intellectual disability takes their duties and responsibilities very seriously. Milagro taught me to be responsible in class, how to read and write, and helped me do my homework.
As years went by, I was always involved in her activities. Milagro is a Special Olympics athlete, so I became a coach at a young age, encouraging my sister to do her best. I ran beside her while she trained and when I was a little bit older I coached her in bowling. I began training her Special Olympics teammates too. She went to the World Summer Games in North Carolina and won a Gold medal. I’ve always been proud of her tenacity and how she continues to reach her own goals.
On one of my school vacations, I told my mother that I wanted to volunteer at Milagro’s school. As days passed while volunteering, I found that I was not only helping my sister but I was helping her classmates with disabilities as well. One of her school mates, Gaby, was a particular challenge. Not only did she refuse to listen to anyone but her personal caregiver, she insisted on fighting with everyone else in the class. I made it my personal goal that before the end of my vacation, Gaby would stop sulking on the couch and begin having positive interactions with the rest of the class. She was resistant but I persisted. I made a point of involving Gaby in every activity. I shared time with her until she was responding to me as a friend and a sister.
When I learned about Best Buddies, I knew from my own experience that this program was desperately needed. I had learned not only from Gaby and Milagros but from other people with intellectual disabilities of the powerful transformations that can happen through friendship. By being a friend who engages a person with a disability in everyday activities, not because they are special but because they are also human beings with brains, hands and feet, a person with an intellectual disability can accomplish what any of us can. We just need to have the patience and dedication to teach the communities of all social classes how to include people with disabilities and capitalize on their talents as they tend to be the most dedicated of workers.
Personally, I have found that spending time with a person with a disability releases my mind and heart, because all special people radiate love.