10 Facts about Best Buddies International
How much do you know about Best Buddies International, the organization that the MTeam supports through fundraising and our annual participation in the Best Buddies Challenge? One of our top tips for MTeamers is to educate yourself on the cause your fundraising supports, so you can speak confidently when requesting donations. (For example, do you know where the money goes? If not, definitely head back to that post to read a detailed breakdown.)
Below, we’ve rounded up 10 fun facts about Best Buddies. How many did you already know?
1.) ANTHONY KENNEDY SHRIVER FOUNDED THE FIRST BEST BUDDIES CHAPTER IN 1987. The first chapter was established at Georgetown University, which is still the biggest in the Washington, D.C. area. There was an article published in the Hoya newspaper which is still available to read here. 50 students were already paired with Buddies and Shriver is quoted saying, “The whole concept is more a socialization program. We want to get these kids out of their own little worlds and into the wider world.”
2.) IN 2019, THERE’S A BEST BUDDIES CHAPTER ON 1,500 COLLEGE, HIGH SCHOOL, AND MIDDLE SCHOOL CAMPUSES. Anyone can start a chapter at their school with administration approval, student leaders with and without disabilities and a teacher who will be the chapter advisor, and a meeting time and place that works. Best Buddies University explains exactly how to set everything up, and leaders can then attend the annual Best Buddies Leadership Conference in Indiana where they are invited to network, engage and learn best practices.
3.) BEST BUDDIES HAS 2,900 CHAPTERS TOTAL, IN ALL 50 STATES AND A TOTAL OF 54 COUNTRIES SPANNING 6 CONTINENTS. There are a total of 125,150 people who currently participate in these chapters. New Zealand is the latest country currently under development, which will soon join the list. A selection of other places around the world that now have chapters include Tanzania, Uganda, Macao, Mongolia, Vietnam, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Colombia, Cuba, Haiti, Lebanon, and Qatar, among many, many others.
4.) BEST BUDDIES HAS CLOSE TO 30 CELEBRITY AMBASSADORS. You may recognize a few of the names. Of course there’s Tom Brady, who has been the closest connection with the MTeam, especially Meredith, who he adores. Others include musicians Steve Aiko and Kenny G; NBA players Kyrie Irving, Chris Bosh, and Mario Chalmers; actors Rob Lowe, Pierce Brosnan, and Ron Howard; supermodel Cindy Crawford; actresses Elle Fanning and Marlee Matlin; Olympian Carl Lewis; and NFL player Emmitt Smith to name a few.
5.) THE ICONIC BEST BUDDIES LOGO WAS DONATED TO THE ORGANIZATION IN THE LATE 1980S, FROM LEGENDARY POP ARTIST KEITH HARING. The logo that Keith Haring created represents one-to-one affection and acceptance. Anthony Shriver met Keith Haring in his studio in New York City in the late 1980s: “He didn’t know me from a hole-in-the-wall, but he had a family member with special needs and understood the significance of the Best Buddies mission. He knew what a friend meant in his life and his family member’s life. He immediately told me he wanted to help and asked if he could donate our logo. The rest is history—and a form of magic.”
6.) IN 1993, THE BEST BUDDIES FINE ART COLLECTION WAS DEVELOPED. The original work in the Best Buddies Fine Art Collection included masterpieces by famous artists like Keith Haring, Roy Lichtenstein, and Robert Rauschenberg. They’ve since expanded their collection to include artwork by Julien Schnabel, Jim Dine, William Wegman, Jamie B. Wyeth, Romero Britto, Alain Despert, Helmet Koller, Mark Kostabi, Kenny Scharf, and Hunt Slonem. Best Buddies now partners with ArtSpace where they have prints for sale.
7.) IN 2018, SLIPKNOT DRUMMER JAY WEINBERG HELD A BENEFIT GIG FOR BEST BUDDIES, CALLED BUDDIES ON THE BEAT. It involved members of many other bands as well, from The Offspring to Dashboard Confessional. Jay first heard about Best Buddies through a Nashville Predators event. Now he is partnered with a Buddy of his own - Daniel, a 26-year-old IT technician and drummer who has autism. They meet up for dinner to talk about drums, and Jay helped Daniel set up his first official recording session. You can read more here., on Forbes.
8.) BEST BUDDIES HAVE HELPED EMPLOY 1,369 PEOPLE WITH INTELLECTUAL AND DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES. With 84% of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities unemployed, there’s a very long way to go, but one of Best Buddies’ main missions if to build opportunities for integrated employment through their Jobs program. Their role is to match skilled and qualified individuals who have intellectual and developmental disabilities with businesses that are seeking enthusiastic and dedicated employees, and to create and nurture those relationships with the people on both sides of that coin.
9.) IN 2015 A&E NETWORK PARTNERED WITH BEST BUDDIES TO PREMIERE A NEW DOCU-SERIES, BORN THIS WAY. For those who haven’t seen it, Born This Way chronicles the lives of young-adults with Down syndrome, several of whom are Best Buddies participants. Cameras follow them around “as they pursue their passions and lifelong dreams, explore friendships, romantic relationships and work, all while defying society’s expectations.” Shriver hoped it would “demonstrate to society that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are just like everyone else and should be fully included in our communities, our workplaces and our lives.”
10.) BEST BUDDIES HAS FOUR MISSION PILLARS AND NINE FORMAL PROGRAM TYPES. The four mission pillars of Best Buddies drive all of their programs. These are one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living. The eight programs that support these mission pillars are: Middle Schools, High Schools, Colleges, Citizens, e-Buddies® , Jobs, Ambassadors, Promoters, and Living (the newest addition). 83% of revenue goes directly to funding the Best Buddies programs, and the rest goes towards administration and fundraising.