A Reflection to the Past: BBLC2014!

Best Buddies Leadership Conference: Journey to Innovation Reflections


Leadership Conference was an amazing experience that I was thankful to get to be a part of for a second year! As a 1st year member of the Young Leaders Council, it was a blast getting to meet my fellow Young Leaders Council members in person for the first time! It was especially exciting participating in Leadership Conference as a member of the Young Leaders Council because we had unique opportunities, such as having lunch with the founder of Best Buddies, Anthony Kennedy Shriver, as well as the rest of the Best Buddies Board of Directors, leading the Friendship Walk held during the conference, attending a dinner with Best Buddies staff from across the nation, leading our own workshops to other students who are leaders in Best Buddies, and helping to set up for the dance. Aside from the aspects of Leadership Conference that came with being a part of the YLC, the performances, speeches and presentations during the conference did not disappoint! Lauren Potter, who plays Becky Jackson on Glee, was in attendance again, as well as NBA star Kyrie Irving, a supporter and participant in Best Buddies! A fellow Kentuckian, David DeSanctis, unveiled his new movie Produce! I was proud to see that this movie was starring a young man who has Down Syndrome from right here in my home state and that the movie was shot in Louisville, Kentucky! It was very cool getting to see the full movie before it comes out in theaters next year! This was probably one of my favorite things about Leadership Conference this year, as I am a big movie fan, and of course I am a huge supporter of any movie that encourages inclusion and friendship for those with disabilities! I had the chance to meet wonderful people from across the globe that are passionate about changing this world for those who live with disabilities and that is always so empowering and heart-warming to see!

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Overall, Leadership Conference was a huge success! The past couple of years I have attended it has been such a blessing to me to physically see how many people from all different areas of the world are being impacted by Best Buddies and how widely the message of inclusion is being spread! I know it will only continue to branch out more and more and there is nothing that brings me more excitement! I would like to take this opportunity to give a big thank you to the Best Buddies staff who I can only imagine put many hours of hard work into making Leadership Conference: Journey to Innovation such a hit! You’re time and efforts certainly do not go unnoticed nor unappreciated. You can be proud that the work you’ve done has brought smiles to the faces of so many people, including my own!

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-Katherine Devine

Western Kentucky University

I think this year’s Leadership Conference 2014 was awesome! I felt like it gave me useful tips and advice to take back to my chapter at Butler University. On Saturday, I was excited to lead the middle school session with fellow YLC member Katie Whitney. I feel as though the middle school students were very engaged and were able to gather a lot of helpful information during the session. I was also happy to have the opportunity to assist fellow YLC members Brook Hansel, Ruben Reyes and Lindsey Eaton in leading the engaging parents session. My favorite memories of the weekend were doing the Best Buddies speech during the staff dinner and being a part of the advertisement video with Lauren Potter (who plays Becky Jackson on Glee), Daniel Noltemeyer (Buddy Ambassador from Kentucky) and Matt Mays (from Matt Mays Entertainment). My favorite speech was Parker Mantell, who recently graduated from Indiana University. I feel like I learned a lot from him explaining how he overcame his challenges in life as someone who stutters.

I look forward to next years Leadership Conference and can’t wait to see what the Best Buddies staff come up with for it!​


-Zach Curtis

Butler University


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