Best Buddies in California Newsletter: February 2022 Feb 18, 2022 | California News | Best Buddies in California: February Newsletter Happy February and Happy Black History Month! We hope you have been findingways to celebrate black history and culture not only this month but every month ofthe year. February 2022 Happy February and Happy Black History Month! We hope you have been finding ways to celebrate black history and culture not only this month but every month of the year. In honor of Black History Month, we want to share two stories of African American individuals who profoundly impacted the lives of those with disabilities. Brad Lomax Brad Lomax was a disability rights advocate and a member of the Black Panther Party. When he was 18, he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and began using a wheelchair. While in his wheelchair, he realized most public buildings and transportation were completely inaccessible as they did not have ramps. This was one of the fundamental discoveries that led him to seek institutional change that would provide equal rights for those with disabilities. In 1977, Lomax participated in the month-long 504 Sit-in at the San Francisco Federal Building and traveled to Washington to petition for Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to be signed into regulation. This act prohibits discrimination based on disability and forbids organizations, schools, and employers from denying individuals with disabilities equal opportunities. Lomax paved the way for the IDD community to be legally guaranteed equal rights. Lois Curtis Lois Curtis is an artist with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and schizophrenia. At age 11, Curtis was institutionalized in Georgia because of her IDD and spent over the next 18 years in an institution even though she did not want to be there. She frequently called the Atlanta Legal Aid Society seeking help to get out of the institution. Still, it wasn't until she was 29 that a legal aid attorney took on her case and challenged the Georgia Department of Human Resources Commissioner. In 1999, the supreme court ruled that it was unconstitutional for Curtis and the other plaintiff to be forced to live in a mental institution when they could live in the community. By fighting for her own rights, Curtis fought for freedom for the entire IDD population. Brad Lomax and Lois Curtis made groundbreaking strides for individuals with IDD. Their dedication to equality and inclusion is truly inspiring. They are mission movers, and here at Best Buddies, we are so grateful for their advocacy. Looking for ways to celebrate Black History Month? Here are some easy ideas on how you can commemorate the month. Support Black-Owned Businesses Read books by Black authors Learn about influential Black figures and history Cook Traditional African American cuisine Watch movies about Black history and experience We love our Volunteers! Meet Katie Mendoza, Best Buddies Friendship in Fresno + SLO How long have you been a volunteer with Best Buddies? "I have been a volunteer with Best Buddies for the past five years, starting in my Sophomore year of High School." Describe your current and previous involvement with Best Buddies? "I was a peer buddy throughout high school, and I became an officer for my last two years. I was the secretary in 2018-2019 and a Peer Buddy Coordinator in 2019-2020. Additionally, last year as a freshman, I started a Best Buddies club at my college, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. This is my second year as the president, and I am so excited to keep helping the program grow." What is your favorite Best Buddies memory? "My favorite Best Buddies memory is from Best Buddies Prom. It was such a fun event, and I loved seeing everyone dancing and having a good time with all their friends. My twin brother, Cole, has Down Syndrome, and he was also a part of Best Buddies at my high school. He had the best time dancing at our Best Buddies prom, and he was even breakdancing on the floor." How has Best Buddies impacted your life? "Best Buddies did not introduce me to the special needs world since my family was already a part of it; however, it gave me a new way to form friendships with so many amazing people who have special needs. It shaped my entire high school career and now my college one as well. I made so many lifelong friends through Best Buddies, including my own buddy, Justin, who I still spend time with. Best Buddies impacted my entire family and helped my brother make lifelong friends as well. He was able to go to all of these fun events and feel included with so many people who enjoyed his spirited and loving personality." Thank you, Katie, for your compassion for others and dedication to inclusion! Launch Week Success! On the week of February 7, we kicked off Friendship Walk season with Launch Week. We unveiled our 2022 Friendship Walk shirt design, promoted a 4-day $100 fundraising challenge, released our 2022 fundraising incentive items, and brought back out #EmpowerInclusion and Jobs Challenges. It was a HUGE success! In California, we registered 229 walkers and fundraised $29,625 in just a short five days! We are off to a great start. BIG thanks to everyone who registered and donated. If you haven't already registered for a walk, it's not too late! Use the link below to get signed up today. Friendship Walk Dates Los Angeles Friendship Walk Saturday, April 23, 2022 @ Shoreline Park Sacramento Friendship Walk Saturday, April 30, 2022 @ North Natomas Regional Park San Diego Friendship Walk Sunday, May 1, 2022 @ Liberty Station San Francisco Friendship Walk Saturday, April 23, 2022 @ Golden Gate Park REGISTER TODAY! Get Involved with Best Buddies Do you want to learn more about Best Buddies and how to get involved? Join our February orientation! In just 30 minutes, you will learn about our mission, programs, and local volunteer opportunities. Plus, you'll get to meet other awesome individuals interested in making an impact! March Volunteer Orientation March 17th from 5:00pm-5:30pm SIGN UP NOW Should you have any questions, contact RichardNakai@bestbuddies.org. February Events Calendar VIEW EVENTS To receive the latest Best Buddies news and announcements, click here. Tags: California News 6 Share You also might be interested in Best Buddies in California Newsletter: November 2021 Nov 3, 2021 Thankful for YOU! Best Buddies in California Newsletter: May 2022 May 20, 2022 MAY the BEST be yet to come! 2021 Friendship Walks Recap May 24, 2021 Over 1,600 people tuned into our virtual Celebration Ceremony.