Presented by Celebrity Cruises, the Florida Panthers Foundation, and WSVN Channel 7
Miami, March, 14, 2017 — On Saturday March 11th, Best Buddies International, a groundbreaking nonprofit founded in 1989 by Anthony K. Shriver to establish a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), hosted its Seventh Annual Best Buddies Friendship Walk in South Florida at Museum Park in Downtown Miami. More than 2,200 people attended the Friendship Walk and the event raised $500,000 in total donations, a record for the organization!
The day kicked off with energetic music as the event MC, WSVN news anchor and Best Buddies supporter Craig Stevens, welcomed everyone to the Friendship Walk. Best Buddies participant Alexis Greenberg, who has been involved with the organization for over 10 years, performed a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem. The event was the perfect gathering for fun, fitness, and friendship, and featured several family-friendly activities including a petting zoo, face-painting, photo booths, zip-lines, bungee trampolines, and bounce houses.
Best Buddies Founder and Chairman, Anthony K. Shriver introduced Jacob Anderson, a successful participant of the Best Buddies Jobs and Ambassador programs who shared his employment story and presented the Spirit of Friendship Award to longtime Best Buddies supporter Jan Risi. She has employed a Best Buddies Jobs participant at Independent Purchasing Cooperative (IPC) for nearly five years, and has consistently led the largest walk team in the United States, and in the history of Best Buddies. By being an enthusiastic advocate for employing individuals with IDD, Risi has proven herself to be a progressive leader in the movement to create a more inclusive work force here in South Florida.
Another notable fundraiser and supporter was Linda Rinaldi who was recognized as the Top Individual Walk Fundraiser in Best Buddies history, raising nearly $40,000 for the Best Buddies mission! Team Lucas was another notable walk team at this year’s event. Their team members Maddy Bram and Lucas Bacardi Shriftman were congratulated for being the youngest supporters to raise over $20,000 in Best Buddies history.
Following the Walk, Anthony K. Shriver recognized the top fundraising teams:
Top Corporate Teams:
1) Team Jacob – IPC raised $52,235
2) Starwood Property Trust raised $26,111
3) Royal Media Partners raised $20,792
Top School Teams:
1) Cypress Bay High School raised $7,785
2) Gulliver Preparatory raised $6,325
3) Cooper City High School raised $5,340
Top Community Teams:
1) Raffy Taffy Boom Boom Pow (Linda Rinaldi) raised $38,673
2) Team Lucas (Lucas Bacardi Shriftman) raised $28,859
3) Team Gaston (Scott Tracy) raised $20,750
Buddy pairs, teams, and supporters traversed the 5K course alongside the scenic Biscayne Boulevard. The Walk began and concluded at Museum Park where participants were treated to lunch, generously provided by Subway. Afterwards the participants were invited to dance and celebrate their achievements by visiting the activity booths. Guests were also treated to a live performance by Disney Radio star Liddy Clark as she rocked the crowd with a few of her top hits!
Since 2009, more than 55,000 participants have walked in more than 26 states and three countries, raising more than $5 million for Best Buddies International. Proceeds from the Friendship Walk are fundamental in supporting state programs that provide one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, and leadership development. These programs can be found in all 50 states and will create promising opportunities for more than 350,000 people this year.
The 2017 Best Buddies Friendship Walk in South Florida was a record-breaking success!
This year’s Best Buddies Friendship Walk in South Florida sponsors and corporate fundraisers include: Independent Purchasing Cooperative, Starwood Property Trust, Royal Media Partners, Holland & Knight, LLP, Celebrity Cruises, the Florida Panthers Foundation, WSVN Channel 7, MasterCard, GrayRobinson, BankUnited, Turnberry Associates, Inktel, Value Store It, Tusk Ventures, Apollo Bank, City of Hialeah, TUUCI, FedEx, Carlton Fields, Kirwan Spellacy & Danner, and Nordstrom.
ABOUT BEST BUDDIES INTERNATIONAL:
Best Buddies® is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Founded in 1989 by Anthony K. Shriver, Best Buddies is a vibrant organization that has grown from one original chapter to more than 2,300 middle school, high school, and college chapters worldwide. Today, Best Buddies’ eight formal programs — Middle Schools, High Schools, Colleges, Citizens, e-Buddies® , Jobs, Ambassadors, and Promoters — engage participants in each of the 50 states and in over 50 countries, positively impacting the lives of more than 1.1 million people with and without disabilities around the world. In many cases, as a result of their involvement with Best Buddies, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities secure rewarding jobs, live on their own, become inspirational leaders, and make lifelong friendships. For more information, please visit www.bestbuddies.org, facebook.com/bestbuddies or twitter.com/bestbuddies.
For more information about the Walk and Sponsorship Opportunities, please contact:
305.375.2233, ext. 211
For media inquiries (including requests for credentials):
305-374-2233, ext. 343