The 24th Annual Best Buddies Leadership Conference Packs in Fun and Surprises for Student Leaders in Bloomington, Indiana
Bloomington, IN (July 23, 2013) – Over 1,700 student leaders, volunteers, and staff from Best Buddies International’s programs around the world participated in the24th Annual Best Buddies International Leadership Conference: Buddies without Borders July 19-22 at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. The weekend offered attendees fresh ideas to share with their chapters back home, networking opportunities, and most importantly, new friendships.
Best Buddies is a nonprofit 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 (IDD).
“The 24th Annual Best Buddies International Leadership Conference was an incredible celebration of our global programs, and amazing start to the 2013-2014 academic year. Best Buddies’ leaders from around the world truly personify “Buddies Without Borders” and are the future of our organization, helping us achieve our goal of creating a world of full inclusion for people with IDD in our communities” shared Tiffany Cannava, Vice President, State Operations and Programs.
This year’s conference, which brought together student leaders from Best Buddies Middle Schools, High Schools, Colleges and Promoters chapters around the world, featured an inspirational conference opening from “Glee’s” Lauren Potter! Conference attendees cheered enthusiastically upon seeing the actress and Best Buddies Board Member at the opening ceremonies – a phenomenal start to what was an incredible weekend. Potter shared an uplifting speech with attendees, danced on stage with fellow Best Buddies participants, and also posed for photos and signed autographs for fans throughout the weekend.
Other highlights from the conference included a special performance by Mike Berkson and Tim Wambach of Handicap This! Productions; a high energy performance from the 2013 Buddy Talent Contest Winner Mike Carlo; and special guest Lisa Smith, who shared her artistic gift of signing. The closing ceremonies also featured a keynote address from Dr. Karen Gaffney, the first living person with Down syndrome to ever receive an honorary Doctorate degree.
The conference also honored a Best Buddies Middle Schools, High Schools, Colleges and Promoters chapter with the 2012-2013 Overall Outstanding Chapter Award: Harbor Pilot Middle School in Dorchester, Massachusetts; Cheshire High School in Cheshire, Connecticut; Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona and Riverdale Country School in Bronx, New York.
Additionally, Daniel Noltemeyer, from Louisville, Kentucky, was honored with the 2013 “Spirit of Courage Award,” which is presented to an outstanding buddy ambassador on behalf of their work to further the Best Buddies mission and empowering others.
Through various workshops, students were prepared and inspired for an exciting school year, implementing Best Buddies’ mission of changing the world through friendship. They discussed such topics as social inclusion, advocacy for people with IDD, and volunteer management.
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 almost 1,500 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 50 countries, positively impacting the lives of nearly 700,000 people with and without disabilities around the world.
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 www.bestbuddies.org, facebook.com/bestbuddies, twitter.com/bestbuddies or instagram.com/bestbuddies.
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