Walking on the path to IDD awareness

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Heritage students pose with a Best Buddies member at the Best Buddies Friendship Walk. (Photo submitted by Lauren Gillet)

This article was written by Angela Lin, class of 2019.

It’s not every day we get to celebrate people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). To bring awareness to these individuals, Best Buddies hosted its South Florida Friendship Walk March 16 from 8 a.m.- 1 p.m. at Maurice A. Ferré Park in downtown Miami.

The event brings together different South Florida chapters and people around the community to raise money to create new chapters and to make it more convenient for adults with IDD to access a chapter. Around 1,000 people attended this walk.

The walk is only a small part of Heritage students’ contributions to Best Buddies. Heritage students do their part to help Best Buddies by volunteering every other Saturday, trading off with Archbishop McCarthy students, at the Schotts Community Center, a Best Buddies chapter in Cooper City. Students play board games, engage in outdoor activities and make crafts and food projects. To raise money for the walk, Heritage’s Best Buddies Club hosted bake sales. Heritage and Archbishop McCarthy collected more than $3,000 for the walk.

The walk started out with a check-in at 8 a.m. and breakfast. People and the “buddies,” or adults with IDD, gathered together to do Zumba until the walk began. At 9:15 a.m., a 1-mile Competitive Run commenced. After the run, the mile-long walk officially began, and all the buddies were awarded with a medal at the end. When everyone finished the walk, they were met with a dance group who danced with them, concluding the event.

“[The walk] is a great way to raise awareness in the community for the mission of Best Buddies and every single person I talk to says they had a great time and can’t wait to return next year,” Heritage club President Lauren Gillet said.

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