The Best Buddies chapter at Eastern Connecticut State University has been named Overall Outstanding Chapter in the United States. The recognition came at the Best Buddies International Leadership Conference held at Indiana University. Best Buddies is a nonprofit, worldwide organization that helps create friendships for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Katharine Ferrone, chapter president, accepted the award on behalf of the club’s members and faculty advisor Charles Wynn, professor of chemistry at Eastern. Over 2,000 student leaders, volunteers, and staff from Best Buddies International programs around the world, participated in the 25thAnnual Leadership Conference in Bloomington this summer.
“The vision of Best Buddies is to put itself out of business by promoting a world that no longer requires an organization to help create friendships with people with disabilities,” said Ferrone, a senior from Wallingford. “Now five years old, Eastern’s chapter spiraled to the top thanks to the inspiration and dedication of many fine student leaders and volunteers. It is demonstrating to both the university and community that people with disabilities are more like us than different.”
In Connecticut, Best Buddies is on the following college campuses: Connecticut College, Eastern Connecticut State University, Fairfield University, Quinnipiac University, Sacred Heart University, Southern Connecticut State University, Trinity College, University of Connecticut, University of Hartford, Wesleyan University and Yale University. The most enduring goal of the organization is to provide opportunities for one-to-one friendships.
Best Buddies programs engage participants in each of the 50 United States, and in 50 countries around the world. Best Buddies’ seven formal programs – Best Buddies Middle Schools, High Schools, Colleges, Citizens, e-Buddies, Jobs and Ambassadors – positively impact nearly 700,000 individuals with and without disabilities worldwide. The chapter at Eastern holds a variety of events each year, from dances to friendship walks, to help close social gaps.
Anthony Kennedy Shriver is the Founder and Chairman of Best Buddies International, which he created in 1989 to foster one-to-one friendships between people with and without intellectual disabilities. Recognizing the tremendous volunteer potential of university students, Shriver first inspired his college peers to personally collaborate in expanding the realm of opportunities that persons with intellectual disabilities should experience. Best Buddies has grown into a leading nonprofit entity with increasing international reach across six continents, establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The Best Buddies Connecticut office is located in North Haven.
Photo: ( left to right) Anthony Kennedy-Shriver, founder of Best Buddies; Katharine Ferrone, chapter president from Wallingford, CT, in green shorts holding the award; club members Amber Heim from East Hartford in white shorts, Kaitlyn Murphy from Mansfield in blue shorts and Monica Mordowanec from Seymour; Connecticut Best Buddies Director Angelo Santiago of Willimantic; and Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers.