For my volunteer project I decided to help out with the Best Buddies Friendship Walk, which benefits the national organization Best Buddies International. Best Buddies is an organization that is attempting to spread volunteer experience globally to expand friendships, leadership opportunities and employment opportunities for people or are developmentally or intellectually challenged. I have volunteered my time many times through numerous organizations. After volunteering for the SPCA last year I didn’t think that it could get any more rewarding than that, simply because of my overwhelming compassion for animals. However, after volunteering for Best Buddies my opinion changed.
My volunteer work for Best Buddies Friendship Walk was the break down shift. I helped distribute food, handed out shirts, and took down tables, signs and chairs after the race. While I felt helpful, the best part of the experience was actually talking and spending time with the “buddies;” those with various disabilities. I saw how thankful these people were to have friends and people that cared and wanted to hang out with them. After meeting Cynthia, the director of Best Buddies in Tampa, she introduced me to one of the “buddies” named Ben. Ben told me how he has biked 18 miles from his home and then ran the 5k, then was about to bike 18 miles back, yet he was still so happy to be around everyone.
The energy at the event was so positive. It was truly a rewarding experience. At the end of the event, I spoke with the president of the Best Buddies chapter at USF. I am now hoping to get involved in the chapter here at USF.