Best Buddies Forever

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Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 11.35.15 AMMembers of best buddies Club will participate in the Best Buddies Friendship Walk on Sunday at White River State Park. According to Grace Hamilton, club officer and sophomore, the purpose of this walk is to raise awareness for those with disabilities. She said the Carmel team will join all of the Best Buddies Indiana chapters at this event. Participants also do not have to be in the club to register.

“The whole goal of this is to raise money for Best Buddies Indiana (and) to create lifelong friendships between people with special needs and their peers,” Hamilton said.

Club sponsor Dana Lawrence said she also enjoys seeing the efforts of the participants.

“(Best Buddies has participated in this walk) for as long as I can remember. It’s just nice to see all of the kids walking together,” Lawrence said. “A lot of good friendships develop.”

Hamilton said, “When I came to Carmel I didn’t know anyone, and Best Buddies is all about making friendships and I just really liked the idea of that because it’s literally a club where all you do is just focus on forming good relationships. It’s just such a wonderful club because I’ve made so many really great friends with just really great people.”

According to Bryn Walker, walk captain and sophomore, the walk promotes inclusion of everyone.

“I went to the Best Buddies conference downtown and one of the things that stuck with me was, well, they told us the purpose of Best Buddies, which you don’t really hear this from non profits, is to put itself out of business—that the ideal goal is to not have a need for a club like Best Buddies anymore just because we’ll be so inclusive of everyone,” she said. “The Friendship Walk is really to promote inclusion in our community and in our world.”

Hamilton said she agreed with the idea of inclusion.

“I think inclusion is really important because there’s so much for everyone to learn,” she said. “Another way you develop as a person is to open yourself to other people who have different beliefs and different abilities and different foundations. By opening yourself to those people, it’s how youScreen Shot 2016-04-19 at 11.38.30 AM become your own developed person.”

Lawrence said the Friendship Walk is meant to recognize all people with  different kinds of disabilities.

According to Hamilton, participants have individual fundraising pages for the event. Money raised on these  individual pages will go mostly toward the programs but a small amount will also go toward fundraising and the administration, as the organization is nonprofit.

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 11.39.18 AM“I have a personal fundraising page with goals so if my page raises in total $50 I said I would wear Crocs for a week and then $100 was wear my clothes backwards for a day. (At) $500 I’m dressing like a boy to school and drawing on a beard and eyebrows and stuff. (At) $1,000 I’m wearing a prom dress to school. (For) $5,000 I said that I would dye my hair purple because that’s the Best Buddies color and $10,000 I’m going to shave my head,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton said she was inspired by another active participant of the Friendship Walk.

She said, “The person who’s in charge of the walk, every year they say, ‘This is our fundraiser goal for the total walk and if they break that goal then I’ll do this,’ so, like, last year’s person got a tattoo of Best Buddies, although I’d never do that.”

Walker said, “My goal is just to raise as much money as possible. I’m definitely going to ask adults in my life and just share how important Best Buddies is to me; that’s what I did last year to fundraise.”

According to Hamilton, apart from the actual walk, there will also be other activities at White River State Park. When she went last year there were prize wheels, food trucks and a pony that made the event enjoyable as well. Participants can stay for as long as they want or can leave the walk early.

“I think that Best Buddies has done so much for me just as a person and contributed so much to who I am today that I think it’s so important to give back as much as I can to them because I just love their mission statement and what they’re about,” Hamilton said. “And you don’t even have to be in Best Buddies to walk, so it’d be great if all of Carmel High School came and walked with us.”

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