Best Buddies collaborates with Rhythm Dance Company to fundraise at the Evening of Dance


Photo Catherine Hayden

Best Buddies treasurer and junior Halle Zides sells concessions at the Evening of Dance to fund Best Buddies’ Friendship Ball and send members to the Best Buddies International Leadership Conference.

Catherine Hayden, News Editor

Best Buddies held their annual fundraising event at Rhythm Dance Company’s Evening of Dance recital in the auditorium on January 27 to spread their message of inclusion regardless of intellectual or developmental disabilities to the parents and dancers.

Rhythm Dance Company teams up with Best Buddies each year not only to give the chapter a platform to spread their message, but also to help them raise the funds necessary to host events such as the Friendship Ball and to travel to the Best Buddies International Leadership Conference.

“[Best Buddies is] running the concessions and we’re helping hand out programs,” treasurer and junior Halle Zides said. “We’re having ambassadors speak [to the audience] which is such a good opportunity because we want to get the word out there about Best Buddies and spread the positivity Best Buddies entails.”

Best Buddies will use a portion of the money raised from the event to send next year’s chapter president and another officer to Indiana for the Best Buddies International Leadership Conference in July.

Some of the money will also go towards the Friendship Ball which is an annual semi formal dance for members of Best Buddies.

“[The Friendship Ball is] a way to let people have prom and not worry about other kids being mean or not having anyone to dance with or [not] having other friends there,” chapter president and senior Hailey Lowe said.

At each Friendship Ball, Best Buddies makes sure to have a sensory friendly room, which is a quieter, lighter room with games and a movie for kids who can become overwhelmed with loud noises and the darkness of a dance.

“This year I’m hoping to talk to people about getting more lights on at the dance and maybe turning the volume down a little bit so everyone can enjoy it,” Lowe said.

Best Buddies pairs students with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities into Buddy Pairs, which means they will work together for the school year and participate in Best Buddies events together as friends.

“[People with intellectual and developmental disabilities] don’t really know many people because they’re with the same people  all the time so [Best Buddies is how] they can meet new friends,” buddy director and junior Juliana Eigen said. “Everyone’s very nice so [Best Buddies members] make many friends a year.”

Besides forming friendships, Best Buddies also works to promote social inclusion and increase understanding of disability specific issues.

“We try to raise awareness for inclusion and try to spread the word to end the word,” Lowe said. “The R word is a big thing we’re against and we try to raise awareness of how hurtful and horrible it can be.”

Best Buddies will be holding more events in the future such as the inclusion coffee house and R word week which encourages students to stop using slurs against people with disabilities.

“I think that people should come even just to a meeting and give it a try because it really is something that’s just so rewarding,” peer buddy coordinator and junior Lauren Silva said.