Best Buddies take a walk of friendship

Stepping toward awareness and equality, Diamond Bar High School Best Buddies members joined thousands of other participants in the club’s Southern California Friendship Walk on May 4. Newly elected co-presidents of the club Ruben Reyes and Molly McCabe, along with other club officers, attended the event and came back inspired to bring new changes to the Best Buddies club.

“[The event] really motivated me to try to make the Best Buddies club on our campus better and to be the best it can. I got ideas from the other schools and even some individuals, who we managed to talk to specifically in a one-on-one setting,” sophomore co-president Reyes shared.

Various chapters of Best Buddies from throughout the state gathered at the annual friendship walk to fundraise for the organization and promote awareness of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, also known as IDD. The event, held at Shoreline Village, Long Beach, included various activities as well as Willpower, a DJ part of a disabilities program. Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster and a few individuals with intellectual disabilities were also present at the event to deliver speeches and support the organization. The event concluded with the two-mile walk and an awards ceremony.

“The motto [of the walk] was “Inclusion is the Finish Line” to basically say that we need to include people with intellectual disabilities into our everyday lives,” Reyes shared.

Held annually all throughout the nation, the Best Buddies Friendship Walk raised a total of $45,000 this year through various donations, pledges, and merchandise sales. Proceeds will be used to fund state programs helping those with IDD acquire one-to-one friendships, leadership development, and integrated jobs. The friendship walk has been providing opportunities for people with disabilities and will be helping at least 350,000 individuals this year.

“I got a lot of great ideas—from other chapter presidents—that I’m excited to bring to Diamond Bar. Especially after this event, I am encouraging people to check out Best Buddies because it is an amazing organization and I just want to make our club as strong as possible. Just going to that walk and seeing how it directly affects people’s lives is something you never forget,” McCabe said.