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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. Read More…

Best Buddies: Positive Attitude, Loyalty, and Sensitivity


This story was written by Caiti Bawroski. She answered our theme question: How have you benefited from your Best Buddies friendship?

I have benefited from my friendship with my Best Buddy, Lorren, in more ways than I can say! Lorren’s positive attitude, loyalty, and sensitivity have made her one of the best friends that I have ever had.

Lorren always has words of encouragement when I am feeling down. Ever since I became College Buddy Director, she has constantly told me about what a good job she thinks that I am doing.

Whenever I talk to her about an event I am trying to put together, she always says, “That’s why you are president. You have the best ideas!” Sometimes I doubt my abilities to be a good leader to my chapter, but Lorren is always there to support me and to help me see my abilities!

Lorren has also proven to be a very loyal friend. While I feel that some people tend to make empty promises that they don’t always keep, I know that I can always count on my Best Buddy. If she tells me that she is going to call me at a certain time, she never fails to do so. She also attends almost every Best Buddies event that our chapter holds. Lorren proves time and time again to be someone who I can count on! I never have to question if she is a true friend to me because she never lets me down!

Last but not least, Lorren is always sensitive to my feelings. Whenever I see her, the first thing she does is ask me how I am doing. She wants to make sure that I am well, and if I am not doing well, she wants to know why and talk about it. If I am upset, Lorren becomes upset too. On the rare occasion that Lorren cannot attend a Best Buddies event, she immediately apologizes and makes sure that my feelings are not hurt. It is great to have a friend who cares so much about my feelings!

All in all, you can see that I have benefited in many ways from my Best Buddies friendship! Lorren has many qualities that make her a great friend to have, and I cannot imagine my life without her. Who would not benefit from having her as a friend? I am very lucky!

Why Best Buddies Makes Me Smile


This story was written by Sri Rapaka from North Potomac, Maryland. He answered our theme question: Why does Best Buddies make you smile?

Sri and Bryan prior to running the Baltimore Marathon 5k race.Best Buddies makes me smile because it has allowed me to form a rewarding friendship with people such as Bryan Vancavage. I have been matched with Bryan since April 2007.

Why is the friendship so rewarding?

One reason is that Bryan is one of the most caring individuals I have ever met. He constantly asks me about my family and friends. He is very supportive of me after a stressful day of work. He listens very attentively whenever I have had a tough day at work. He has also come out to support me when I have run in races.

I remember one race it was 20 degrees during the race. But Bryan all bundled up was still out there to cheer me on during the course of the race. As I came across the finish line, I could not help but smile. I do not know too many people that would be willing to do what Bryan did.

Another reason is that Bryan’s smile naturally wants to make me smile. If you ever meet Bryan he has one of the best smiles ever. Whenever I see this smile, I just naturally want to smile myself.

Finally, my friendship with Bryan makes me smile because there is a strong committment to support one another. As mentioned previously, Bryan has been very supportive of me. I would like to think that I have been supportive of Bryan as well by offering him the gift of friendship.

Without organizations such as Best Buddies it is difficult for people such as Bryan to form friendships with individuals that do not have a disability. The fact that Best Buddies exists and creates friendship opportunties for individuals such as Bryan is so great, that I can’t help but smile.

Our Best Buddies: The Leaders We Are Looking For


This story as written by Best Buddies Canada participant Stephanie Hamelin, from Quebec, Canada. She answered our theme question: How has Best Buddies helped you become a leader?

First thing I thought while reading the  theme of this week was, “Oh My God ! Leader is a strong word. Am I a leader ?”

A leader for me is someone who is doing outstanding things that will influence people towards the achievement of a goal. Of course, on a day-to-day basis, I’m doing my best to help the cause by trying to improve my buddy’s quality of life, raising money, and opening minds around me. But these are all normal things you do when you care for a friend, so I don’t consider myself as a leader. That’s why, instead of talking about myself, I’ve decided to talk about my leaders in Best Buddies.

Since I’ve been involved with people that have disabilities, you can’t imagine how much I am amazed by what I see every day when sharing their lives. Actually, I truly think they are the leaders we are looking for.

I know a young man, with such an overwhelming imagination, that he is creating his own games, and he’s sharing them, bringing sunshine in the life of his other friends. Every morning, I can’t wait to see the new ideas that had come out of his head to entertain us and make us laugh. And I’m telling you, I’ve never seen someone with such a devotion to his task, and that definitely makes my day.

I’ve seen a group of guys with autism, playing team sports at Special Olympics, and winning with such a wonderful team spirit. I was totally astonished by everybody who has ever attended a team meeting at work and knows how difficult it is to bring a group of people to agree to a common idea and to develop team spirit. But these group of guys with disabilities were able to achieve that, and moreover, they did it with a smile on their face. Wow! They are the example we have to follow.

I’ve met a wonderful woman too, that even if she may need help and support for herself, she is spending part of her week being a volunteer helping others in her community. Moreover, she has been recently nominated volunteer of the year. Being able to overcome your own difficulties in order to help others, isn’t that what we expect from our leaders?

I sincerely believe that my friends are the best leaders our society can have. They give all they have to make our world a better place to live. I would like to thank my leaders for being who they are, and to thank Best Buddies for helping my friends becoming our leaders.

Want to learn more about Best Buddies International? Visit www.bestbuddies.org and get involved, today!

To get involved with our programs in the Canada, visit www.bestbuddies.ca.

Finding Stability & Inspiration Through Best Buddies


Ali Miner (right) and her buddy Lauren at a Best Buddies fundraiser in Milwaukee.

This story was written by Best Buddies Wisconsin participant Ali Miner.

I’ve moved several times in my life but have never gotten used to being outgoing in making new friends. I showed up to my new school on the first day of my sophomore year with nothing but my family.

We were staying in a rental house, my things weren’t going to be shipped for months, and limited classes were available since I was late in creating my schedule.

My mom required for me to get involved in ONE club or sport to help with the emotional distress of the move. Considering that I am not a very athletic person, I chose to pick a club.

I’ve always been interested in disabilities because my brother has several and my mom used to bring me to her work where she babysat children with disabilities to give their parents time to go shopping, etc.

One day during lunch, I heard a kid advertising a club called Best Buddies. I figured, “Why not? Joining would surely get my mom off my back.”

At this moment, I didn’t think anything could improve the chaos of my life. During the first year, I wasn’t very involved with my buddy but I was treasurer and attended all the group activities.

At the end of the year, I was elected to be the chapter president for the following year. I was so anxious for the next year to start. During the summer, I attended the Leadership Conference. This is when my life was turned upside down. I saw so many amazing speakers such as Soeren and Mr. Shriver.

There were times during that weekend when I was so inspired that I cried tears of happiness. During certain moments, it was almost impossible to hold back the tears. I learned so many ways to help those around me who have disabilities and I met so many wonderful people, even from different countries!

I was also taught about the campaign to end the “R” word. This was what really changed my life. I had never really thought of the impact done on people by the use of this word. From that moment on, I have not used that word nor allowed other people around me to use it.

This picture was taken during our first monthly activity right after we found out who our match was.

These upcoming months, my chapter and I are planning several things to help our school become more aware of this ongoing misuse of language. Recently, my buddy and I spoke of our friendship at a Best Buddies fundraiser in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

I’m so happy to have Lauren, my buddy, in my life. She is able to bring a smile to my face even on days when I didn’t think it was possible. I am very thankful to be a part of this organization and to be able to experience so many extraordinary things. Go Best Buddies!

Want to learn more about Best Buddies International? Visit www.bestbuddies.org and get involved today!

To get involved with our programs in the state of Wisconsin, visit www.bestbuddieswisconsin.org.

a typical son

two of us are tall and the other one of us is short and has Down syndrome

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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.

michael crawley

Every person is an equal member of the human family.

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