Best Buddies – Truly Rewarding on so Many Levels
Sometimes you participate in a group or an event because you “have to,” but then there are those rare times that you participate in something because you really want to – for me this can easily be said about my experience with Best Buddies. This sentiment is equally shared by my wife Julia and my boys, Nick and Anthony.
As an English teacher for over twenty years at Oceanside High School, I have had the opportunity to work with our Best Buddies chapter, which is just one of the almost 1,500 middle school, high school, and college chapters worldwide. Our building’s group meets weekly – and promotes the spirit of the organization – pairing students with special needs at my high school with a student buddy to help foster socialization and acceptance for all involved.
The spirit of volunteerism that the organization promotes is alive and well at Oceanside High School. The monthly events and fundraisers that are held by the school’s Best Buddies club often reminds me that I am surrounded by people who are so giving of themselves. These events embody everything that is right about the world – or perhaps everything that should be right. The impact of this club extends to both the students with special needs and to the student volunteers.
I first became involved with Best Buddies when I came to Oceanside. I was intrigued by how this club was able to foster awareness and acceptance for kids with special needs. After I had the idea to write my first Mickey Tussler novel, I immersed myself even further in the culture of the Oceanside Best Buddies chapter – to ensure that I would do justice in my representation of a young man with autism. I have never looked back.
Working so closely with children with autism and teens and getting to know their families has been more fulfilling than I ever could have imagined. My character Mickey is the embodiment of all the magic I have witnessed over many years and has become a wonderful vehicle for me to further connect with families of children with special needs and teens.
For those of you not familiar with my Mickey Tussler series (The Legend of Mickey Tussler and the sequel Sophomore Campaign), the novels chronicle the coming of age of young Mickey Tussler – a pitching phenom with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. Mickey’s struggle for acceptance on a minor league baseball team during the 1940s helps to shape a story about overcoming obstacles, self-discovery, and the human condition. The first book, The Legend of Mickey Tussler, was adapted for the movie “A Mile in His Shoes” (starring Dean Cain and Luke Schroder) which aired on cable television this past September.
My work with children with autism inspired my series and helped to deepen my connection with Best Buddies. With that in mind, I would like to announce that for every paperback copy of The Legend of Mickey Tussler or Sophomore Campaign sold on Amazon.com between Friday, July 6th and Friday, July 27th, I will donate a portion of the proceeds to Best Buddies International.
So pick up a copy of Mickey Tussler or Sophomore Campaign and you’ll hopefully enjoy the story and support a much worthy cause. Post your comments, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you think of Mickey and the other characters who bring his story “to life.”
If you are looking to become involved in a worthy cause, one that will alter your life forever, working with Best Buddies is perhaps the perfect place to start.
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About Frank NappiFrank Nappi has taught high school English and Creative Writing for over twenty years. His debut novel, Echoes From The Infantry, received national attention, including MWSA's silver medal for outstanding fiction for 2006. His follow-up novel, The Legend of Mickey Tussler, garnered rave reviews as well, including a screenplay adaptation of the touching story which aired nationwide in the fall of 2011 (A Mile in His Shoes starring Dean Cain and Luke Schroder). Frank continues to produce quality work, including The Legend of Mickey Tussler: Sophomore Campaign, the intriguing sequel to the much heralded original story, and is presently at work on a third installment of the unique series. Frank lives on Long Island with his wife Julia and their two sons, Nicholas and Anthony.
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