The 25th Annual Best Buddies Leadership Conference Packs in Loads of Fun for Student Leaders in Bloomington, Indiana Presented by C.A. Hartnell


  • NBA Star and Best Buddies Global Sports Ambassador Kyrie Irving hosts the Best Buddies Pep Rally and Basketball Game
  • Julie Remillard wins first ever “Best Buddies Jobs Employee of the Year Award”
  • Best Buddies Ambassador and Jobs Participant Jorge Morilla wins “Spirit of Courage Award”
  • Star of the new movie “Produce” David DeSanctis attends screening of his film at the Conference
  • More than 15,000 people tuned in to watch the Conference, live streamed

Bloomington, IN (July 30, 2014) – Over 2,000 student leaders, volunteers, and staff from Best Buddies International’s programs around the world participated in the 25th Annual Best Buddies International Leadership Conference: Journey to Innovation presented by C.A. Hartnell, July 25-28 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.

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).

This year’s conference, which brought together student leaders from Best Buddies Middle Schools, High Schools, Colleges and Promoters chapters around the world, featured a fantastic conference opening performance from the 2014 Best Buddies Leadership Conference Buddy Talent Winner Sujeet Desai, in which he played “In the Mood” by The Glenn Miller Band on the Piano and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from The Lion King on the clarinet.

Sujeet Desai

Sujeet Desai

A question and answer segment kicked off this weekend with Anthony K. Shriver, Founder and Chairman of Best Buddies International, moderated by Anthony’s daughter Eunice Shriver. With a question from the audience that really resonated with everyone in attendance; “What is the best advice you would give to a student starting their own Best Buddies chapter?” Shriver replied, “My dad always taught me to keep my head down low and do your best job. Don’t worry what anyone else is doing, stay focused on what you want and you will accomplish it — everyone has the ability to be a leader.”

Anthony K. Shriver and daughter Eunice Kennedy

Anthony K. Shriver and daughter Eunice Kennedy

Conference attendees cheered enthusiastically upon seeing the “Glee’s” star Lauren Potter, who is also a Best Buddies Global Ambassador, at Opening Ceremonies – a phenomenal start to what was an incredible weekend. Potter posed for photos and signed autographs for fans throughout the weekend.

25th Annual Best Buddies Leadership Conference (July 25-28, 2014) #BBLC2014

Other highlights from the conference included a special performance by The Tap Factor Dance Company, a high energy and exciting basketball game coached by NBA Star and Best Buddies Global Sports Ambassador Kyrie IrvingDavid DeSanctis, star of the film “Produce” was also in attendance. The closing ceremonies featured several inspiring speeches from the newest Best Buddies Ambassadors, including Donna Gunn (Utah), Kelly Howard (Florida), Won Jae Choi (Korea), Stacey Powell (Florida), and Ashley Coffman (Arizona).

The Tap Factor

The Tap Factor

Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving

David DeSanctis, star of Produce

David DeSanctis, star of Produce

The conference also honored a Best Buddies Middle Schools, High Schools, Colleges and Promoters chapter with the 2013-2014 Overall Outstanding Chapter Award: Tavares Middle School in TavaresFlorida; Bedford High School in BedfordMassachusetts; Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic, Connecticut andMontgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, Tennessee.

Additionally, Best Buddies Ambassador and Jobs Participant Jorge Morilla, was honored with the 2014 “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.

Jorge Morilla, recipient of the Spirit of Courage Award

Jorge Morilla, recipient of the Spirit of Courage Award

For the first year ever, the 2014 Leadership Conference had several of their job participants in attendance. Julie Remillard, employed with Silicon Valley Bank in California, was awarded the first ever “Best Buddies Jobs Employee of the Year Award”, which is presented to an outstanding Jobs participant for their dedication and exemplary work ethic in the work force.

Julie Remillard accepts the 1st Best Buddies Jobs Employee of the Year Award

Julie Remillard accepts the 1st Best Buddies Jobs Employee of the Year Award

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 more than 1,700 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 800,000 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 www.bestbuddies.org, facebook.com/bestbuddies or twitter.com/bestbuddies.

ABOUT C.A. HARTNELL:

A. Hartnell is a Las Vegas based author of an award-winning series of four historical fiction chapter books for children eight and older. Her four-book series is set in 1950s Southern California and earned a 2013 Mom’s Choice Silver Award. This award program is globally recognized for sharing excellence in family-friendly media, products, and services.

Media Inquiries/Photos:

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

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

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About Best Buddies

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 (IDD).

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