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To whom it may concern:

It is my pleasure to express my support of Best Buddies.

As a Best Buddies Sponsor and professional educator at Mountain Ridge High School in Glendale, Arizona, I have been fortunate and blessed to be a part of an amazing program that has made a huge difference in the climate of the campus.  The MRHS Best Buddies Program, today, is a flourishing program that has literally changed the “face” of our campus to a much more compassionate, knowledgeable and tolerant one.  As a special education teacher, I knew that my students, in the past, were not experiencing the “typical” high school experience.  They wanted to go to prom and other dances, hang out at football games and go to the mall with friends.  Unfortunately, these simple activities for most students with intellectual disabilities are not possible because they lack a friend to attend these events with.  Best Buddies enables typical peers and peers with intellectual disabilities to attend these events together, just like everyone else.  As an inclusionary practice, Best Buddies provides the ULTIMATE gift-friendship for all.

Currently, there are 92 members of our Best Buddies Program at Mountain Ridge High School, including peer buddies (typical peers) and buddies (intellectually disabled peers).  MRHS Best Buddies events, to name a few, have included: BB Football Night, BB Barbecues, BB Ice Cream Social, BB Adopt-A-Family, BB Bowling Night, BB McDonald’s Night, BB T-Shirt Day, BB Pumpkin Painting Party, BB Coyotes Hockey Night, and, of course, we go to prom.  We get decked out in formals and up-dos, tuxes and boutonnières, jump into our limousine, go out to a fancy dinner and then dance the night away.

Best Buddies has changed my life. As a volunteer, it has made me aware of how completely exhausting it is to work for a non-profit organization.  As a special education teacher, it has opened my eyes up to the amazing educational opportunities available for a cross-over of academics and “real life” skills.  As a person, it has enabled me to feel a complete joy and appreciation for the healing power of friendship.

Sincerely,
Melissa McCusker, M.Ed



To Whom it May Concern:

I am writing on behalf of the Best Buddies California program. My daughter Lauren Hammond, age 21 has been involved with Best Buddies for about 8 years. She has Asperger's Syndrome. Making friends was impossible for her. Lauren also has other disabilities but in comparison the inability to have a friend was the most heart breaking of all. Over the years, we've had her involved in all types of therapies to assist her in making life a little easier. Learning to be a friend has been the biggest disability for her. Despite being enrolled in social skills classes and group therapies for years...friendship still eluded her. None of these therapies gave her what she longed for the most...a friend...a buddy. For a child with Asperger's Syndrome, the task of interacting in a true "give and take" relationship is next to impossible. The therapies that teach them to do this take years. In the meantime, there is isolation, which keeps them in their own little world.

What is the most wonderful about this program is that it provides them with a "friend", a buddy. This buddy accepts them as they are, wherever they may be in their social skills development. They initiate conversation and show a genuine interest in our kids. They invite our kids to participate in activities that they would otherwise never have had, such as dances, picnics, pumpkin carving parties, etc. My daughter expresses love to very few people and included in that short list are two of her Best Buddies, Dalia and Peggy. The gift of friendship is priceless...we know this for a fact. This program gives our disabled kids something that can't be bought...a friend. Support for it's future must be protected and nurtured.

As parents of this special girl, we are most grateful to all of the young men and women who are buddies to people like our daughter. You may never know the true value of the time that you have so generously given to these kids...but we know. The lives of all involved in this program are enriched, including ours.

Thank you,
Lori Hammond
Los Angeles, CA



To Whom It May Concern:

My teenage daughter, Amanda, has been involved with the Best Buddies program for over three years now. Through the program she has increased her self-esteem, made some wonderful friends, and has been able to do so many fun social activities that I would not have been able to provide for her.

All of Amanda's Best Buddies' friends out of UCLA have been excellent, responsible, caring, and positive role models for her. She has loved the "older sister" quality of having a college-aged friend.

In addition, Amanda has had a steady boyfriend for the past year. Although she had met this disabled boy at her former school several years ago, through a Best Buddies social event, she was able to make contact with him again, become telephone friends, and eventually establish an appropriate girlfriend/boyfriend relationship. It is difficult enough for any young person to make and maintain friendships, but it is even more difficult for people with intellectual disabilities with their impaired social functioning to do so. Through Best buddies events and field trips, people with disabilities are able to have a satisfying and positive social life.

As a mother of a disabled young person, I feel that Best Buddies is one of the most effective, safe, and worthwhile social programs around. I would encourage all individuals and corporations to further support and fund this program as it makes all the difference in the lives of teenage and young adult disabled people.

Sincerely,
Kathy Bucuzzo
Los Angeles, CA
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