Best Buddies Friendship Walk Celebrates Uniqueness, Inclusion


Hannah Hendron, Reporter

Best Buddies hosted the fourth annual Friendship Walk on Saturday, May 11 at Wicker Memorial Park in Highland. Registration began at 9 A.M., and the walk started at 11 A.M. The event lasted until,1 P.M., which made it two hours long.

The Best Buddies Friendship Walk is number one in the country supporting individuals with IDD, specifically raising awareness and funds to support inclusion. Participants of the walk were able to make new friends and enjoy the day by dancing, laughing, and smiling. By partaking in this event, they were able to develop Best Buddies programs and the many objectives the organization stands for. Most importantly, the walk showcases and celebrates the unique individualism in everyone.

“We had three main expectations: to raise enough money, get as many people to attend, and spread the word about Best Buddies. The whole point is to make friendships between someone with an intellectual disability and an intellectual person,” said one leader of Best Buddies, Melissa Diekelmann.

The overall goal or strive for the nonprofit organization, including this walk, is to empower people with IDD by helping them forge beautiful friendships with other peers, live independently, strengthen public speaking, obtain successful employment, self-advocacy and communication skills, and to feel included by society.

“It’s my second year participating in this event. I’m excited for this year because it helps spread the word about Best Buddies, and I get to hangout with my friends,” said club member sophomore Jarriz Baldauf.

Best Buddies is a club offered at Griffith High School where any student can become a member and participate. The mission is focused for people with (IDD) Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, through a volunteer movement that establishes one on one friendships, leadership development, integrated employment, and inclusive living. Best Buddies supports multiple IDD communities, such as people with Down syndrome, Williams syndrome, Fragile X, autism, cerebral palsy, and other unidentified disabilities.

According to the Best Buddies website, “Best Buddies is the world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical, and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).”