Best Buddies Friendship Walk: Experiences From The YLC
The Best Buddies Friendship Walk (BBFW) is the biggest fundraiser of the year for many of our State Programs. Thousands of students, families, schools, and volunteers come together each year in cities all across the United States to raise awareness, fundraise for their states, and spread the mission of Best Buddies. As a member of the Young Leaders Council, I hold the position of the BBFW Liaison.
As the YLC starts to develop over its first year, I have begun to set goals to implement over the next year. One goal that I am currently working on is getting statements from the other YLC members about their experiences at their BBFW from the 2012-2013 school year. This is an event that means a lot to student leaders across the country. Each friendship walk has the same mission but the events held are different everywhere.
My very first Best Buddies Friendship Walk was during my sophomore year of high school in Indianapolis, Indiana. During my first BBFW event, my passion for the organization and for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities grew greatly. I think that this was the point in my life where I knew that I really wanted to become more involved with the organization itself and to also pursue a college education down a path where I could continue to change the lives of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Looking back, as I have made the transition from my Best Buddies Indiana family to my Best Buddies family in Kentucky, my passion continues to grow immensely.
I am currently completing an undergraduate education in Communication Sciences and Disorders to become a speech and language pathologist. I continue to attend BBFW events in both Kentucky and Indiana. It is a great way to meet up with friends that you only get to see once a year. It also is a great opportunity to meet others that share the same passion as you.
This year was Kentucky’s first Best Buddies Friendship Walk, and I was lucky to share that moment with others around Kentucky as this annual fundraising tradition started.
Below are statements from a few YLC members that share insights from their experiences at Friendship Walks.
“Last year, my chapter at Troy High School in Fullerton, CA participated in the Southern California Friendship Walk for the first time. All of our members–Buddies and Peer Buddies alike–really loved the event and we had great success fundraising. The event was very special for a lot of us because it allowed us to interact with people at chapters outside our own. It also was so powerful to see so many people working towards the Best Buddies mission along with us. As a chapter, we did a number of things to ensure that we fundraised successfully. First, we made the Friendship Walk our only chapter activity for the month. By doing so, we made it so that everyone was required to attend just the walk that month so that it wasn’t “one more thing” required of him or her. This helped us ensure close to 100% attendance, which was incredible for an organization of more than 200 members. Second, we incentivized fundraising by offering our own prizes to the top fundraising members. Those who raised more than $100 were all invited to a special lunch off campus (and thus exempted from one of their classes, which is always fun)! This worked really well and got us the title of Top Fundraising Chapter! We also made our own t-shirts and painted banners to make sure that we were the most spirited chapter at the Walk! All of these things are easy things for chapter leaders to institute that will really help make future Walks successful! I’d be happy to provide additional suggestions to anyone who’s interested in learning more!”
“The Central Florida Friendship Walk stepped off on May 4 in Orlando. Surrounding a picturesque lake in the heart of the city, thousands of Buddies and their supporters were able to celebrate Friendship with food trucks, games, dancing and of course a stroll around the lake. Thanks to the support of very generous donors, I was the top student fundraiser for the walk and had the opportunity to ceremoniously cut the ribbon to open the walk. The big moment arrived and with the cheers of my teammates in support, I opened the walk and made a memory to last a lifetime. Though there were ominous rain clouds threatening to rain on our parade, the sun broke through during the final lap and all walkers cheered. After the walk, Best Buddies teams from all across the region enjoyed free massages, dance contests and a closing presentation in which every chapter was honored for their efforts.”
Amanda and Lyman High School, Best Buddies Florida