Meet Joshua and Markus
“Hi! My name is Joshua Mendoza, and I am the Buddy Director at Lahainaluna High School in Maui, Hawaii. My Buddy is Markus-Alan Bettencourt. We were paired together at the start of the school year, since we like some of the same things, like basketball, and since then, he has become one of my best friends. In March, my school chapter hosted the annual island-wide dance where I was surprised to learn that I was chosen as the recipient of a pay-it-forward graduation party, which was started by a local couple and their son for buddies on Maui. The Maui News covered the announcement on the front page of the paper, and since then, people all over Maui have come up to me to say congratulations!
Since joining Best Buddies, I have become much more outgoing. My mom, Joanne, said that since we moved to Hawaii and found Best Buddies I really came out of my shell, not just in school, but everywhere. I was diagnosed with autism at the age of three, and social anxiety is an everyday challenge for me. I have a service dog that joins me in most places outside of school.
Thanks to Best Buddies, I feel confident and happy at school on my own.
My mom and dad said that seeing me approach friends in public was a major milestone and a big reason why we moved to Maui. Living on a small, family-oriented island, known as Ohana in Hawaii, and the kind community at Lahainaluna High School has helped me feel so confident in life.
Markus-Alan and I have done a lot of great activities together over this past school year. Along with the monthly Best Buddies events at school, we also volunteered together at the 2017 Best Buddies Life Is Sweet fundraiser in Wailea, Hawaii, where we worked with chefs to prepare and present gourmet desserts to guests, as well as attending the ALEX AND ANI Maui fundraiser, and hanging out together after school.
Thank you Best Buddies Maui for the opportunity to be a Buddy Director at my school and for helping find my best friend. It is so awesome to get to join the officers in their meetings and help make decisions for our chapter.”