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Best Buddies send off a super year

April 29, 2016
daniel and dates

Daniel King pairs up with senior special education major Caroline McGuiness senior health sciences major Taylor Vinhal, while they dance during the Best Buddies Buddy Ball.

It was an epic night of super-hero proportions at the Buddy Ball NIU’s Holmes Student Center recently.

Teens and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their college student buddies, celebrated at the super-hero-themed dance for the Best Buddies program at NIU.

“I thought the evening was perfect. My buddy and I were so excited to celebrate our third ball together. We had a blast,” said Mollie Wang, a Peer Buddy and a junior studying rehabilitation services.

Best Buddies is an international organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Through integrated employment, leadership development, and one-to-one friendships, Best Buddies aims to make a difference. Students at NIU serve as peer buddies, getting matched with a community member who has intellectual or developmental disabilities. NIU’s Best Buddies chapter serves 30 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The program is so popular with NIU volunteers that some buddies have more than one peer buddy.

Photo by Michelle LaVigne/Creative Services Junior in child development Kelsey Lyle of DeKalb, IL., strikes a pose with Buddy Laura Bosshardt of Sycamore after they entertained attendees of the Best Buddy Talent Show with their choreographed dance to “Sorry” by Justin Bieber.

Junior in child development Kelsey Lyle, strikes a pose with Buddy Laura Bosshardt  after they entertained attendees of the Best Buddy Talent Show.

Peer buddies develop friendships with their buddies, hanging out a few times a month and doing the typical things friends do, ­like got out to eat, shopping or to a movie. About twice a month there is an organized chapter event such as bowling at the Huskie Den, a casino night, attending an NIU soccer game, and a talent show.

Over 70 buddies and their peer mentors attended the Buddy Ball, the group’s biggest event of the year. Wang said everyone eagerly looks forward to the Ball for the opportunity to dress up, dance and have one last hurrah before the summer.

“I loved looking around at everyone dancing and having a great time. It is so amazing to see all the friendships that have developed over this year and to know that they were made possible by Best Buddies,” Wang said. “That’s what makes me love this organization so much.”

Students interested in volunteering for Best Buddies can email [email protected] or visit their facebook page.