Message from our State Director
Welcome to the Sunshine State! Best Buddies has many strong programs in Florida that enrich the lives of youth and adults with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). To date, Best Buddies is represented in 212 elementary, middle, and high schools and on college campuses across Florida and has matched 65 adults with IDD in one-to-one friendships in the Citizens programs in Central and South Florida. More than 2,600 friendships are happening across the state of Florida. Our friendship programs are sponsored by local, state and federal government funds as well as private and corporate contributions.
Best Buddies Florida also offers our supported employment program, known as Best Buddies Jobs, in four markets across Florida, Broward, Central Florida, Miami and Palm Beach. Florida staff members are currently supporting 155 adults and youth with disabilities who are either seeking or successfully employed in community, integrated employment. The Jobs program is supported by the State of Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Agency for Persons with Disabilities, and the Social Security, Ticket to Work program.
In addition to the great programs offered across the state, six area offices work diligently to plan and host exciting regional activities and training to help support the growth and development of Best Buddies student leaders and participants with IDD. The school year is not complete without the infamous Best Buddies Friendship Ball! This inclusive dance allows over 2,000 students from all chapters to come together and celebrate the culmination of the year’s friendships. Each area office also participates in an annual Best Buddies Friendship Walk, which is a community-wide event geared towards raising awareness of programs and most importantly, celebrating the amazing friendships that happen throughout the year. This year over 5,800 students, teachers, parents, siblings, and community members attended seven walk events across the state, and demonstrated to their local communities the power of friendship. Another highlight of the year includes the regional Champion of the Year events, which allows each regional office to highlight their biggest supporters and honors one volunteer for being the true Champion of our programs.
With a record number of participants and leaders attending the Annual Best Buddies Leadership Conference in July, and Local Leadership Training Days hosted by each office in the Fall, this year is poised to be record breaking for Best Buddies in Florida.
Of course, these accomplishments would not be possible without the support of Advisory Board members, dedicated volunteers, devoted staff, generous sponsors, foundation donors, individual donors and corporate partners.
Thank you for being a part of Best Buddies in Florida.