“Since 1995, Best Buddies High Schools has paired students with intellectual and developmental disabilities in one-to-one friendships with high school students. In the past, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities have not had the opportunity to have friends outside of their own special education classroom. By introducing Best Buddies into public and private high schools, participants are crossing the invisible line that too often separates those with disabilities from those without.” www.bestbuddieswisconsin.org
On Saturday, May 19th, we participated in the Best Buddies Friendship Walk in Delafield at Lapham Peak State Park. It was a gorgeous day, 80 degrees, sunny, and breezy. This was our first walk as a family. Queenie was our Team Captain, raising $150 in pledges towards the event. We had five members in our team. We have decided that next year, we are going to try to have the largest team there! The walk was 2.5 miles, but the pace was easy going and definitely family friendly!
Lulu Grace was so excited to be walking with us! She got all jazzy, as you can see from the picture! She wanted to wear her striped knee highs, and I have learned with Lulu that some things just aren’t worth the fight. Most days, it’s impossible to get socks on her feet, so I wasn’t going to argue about which socks she wore! There were a lot of high school aged girls who participated, and they were dressed in capes and crazy outfits. Lulu fit right in!
We ran into a couple of people we have met before. We saw Brittany, a young woman who attended the pageant last year with her best buddy! Queenie got her picture taken with the two of them at registration, and it was her facebook profile photo for a long time! We also ran into a young man named Max who attends our support group meetings. He is a budding photographer, and was asked to volunteer to take photos for the event! We were so proud of him. He did a great job!
There was no convincing Bass to come with us. I was disappointed, especially once we got there. The people that were there were so accepting, friendly, and open. It is a community of people that I look forward to being more involved with. It is rare that you find people who don’t question or look twice, who understand when Lulu didn’t want to talk or was upset when things were a little chaotic. I listened in on some of the conversations that the ‘buddies’ had along the walk, and I was so touched by the genuine friendships that they have formed. We were surrounded by t-shirts that said, ‘Be a Buddy, Not A Bully,” and “See the Ability in Disability.” We were surrounded by people whose children were the target of bullying, whose children struggle with being seen for something other than their disability. It was refreshing to be able to be in our own skin and be comfortable, because we were surrounded by people who get it!
Lulu Grace and Jon stopped along the walk to look at the butterfly garden. I crossed the finish line and waited, and waited! I was starting to think about heading back to find them, when I see Lulu’s shining face, bright red from her efforts. She saw the finish line and started running! It was such a cute moment. She was incredibly proud of herself. She wore her Best Buddies t-shirt to school yesterday, and was sure to tell everyone about her accomplishment. I’m so proud of her! And I think I may have a new walking partner! 🙂