Walker of the Week: Angela An, The Community Leader Walker
Angela is a 7-time Emmy award-winning journalist and morning news anchor for Wake Up CBUS – Central Ohio’s #1 weekday morning newscast on WBNS-10TV. Before her incredible career in news, Angela was a student at the University of Southern California (USC), where she met Best Buddies Founder and CEO Anthony Kennedy Shriver. Anthony was only recently graduated and on a tour of colleges across the United States to try and have them open Best Buddies Friendship Chapters at their schools.
Best Buddies friendship programs build one-to-one friendships between people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), offering social interactions while improving the quality of life and level of inclusion for a population that is often isolated and excluded.
Angela was one of the first students to sign up and even became the Chapter President leading the organization at USC.
We are so glad to be working with Angela in Ohio as we are starting here. We have 30 of those school friendship chapters across the state, but several schools hope to open a chapter.
Angela is the emcee of our annual Friendship Walk and shares below why she believes Best Buddies is so important.
What does inclusion mean to you?
Inclusion is equal access for everyone in mind, body, and spirit. It also means respect, compassion, and kindness. These are the tenets that I believe allow people to naturally act with inclusivity in their hearts.
When did you first get involved with Best Buddies, and why?
I remember seeing a flyer in my dorm about joining this “great organization to build friendships.” As a freshman at a college literally across the country from home, I thought – YES! I remember hearing Anthony speak to the group and was taken in by the passion he had when speaking about the friendships he had with people with IDD. It was powerful.
Who was your first buddy match, and/or what is your favorite memory from Best Buddies?
My first buddy was Mario. Mario was around 25 years old, but his intellect level was closer to 8 years of age. His eagerness to learn and his zest for life was infectious. I took Mario to meet my dormmates, who looked forward to his weekly or monthly visits. Mario lived in a foster facility for people with IDD, so he really didn’t have a family. My best memory of Mario was when we would go to the laundromat because what college kid doesn’t have laundry to do, right? Mario loved watching the bubbles come up in the washer section. He would lift and close the lid every 5 seconds to see how high the bubbles would rise. I’d have to sit on the lid sometimes because it would take twice as long for clothes to get done because he kept peeking. But boy, did we have fun. What I didn’t realize at first was Mario quickly learned how to separate my colors from my whites… and by the end of my freshman year, he was doing my laundry. Yes, I feel a little guilty. Just a little.
Why are you participating in the Best Buddies Friendship Walk this year?
I think now more than ever we need to show why these friendships matter. The pandemic has challenged all of us in many ways, but for people with IDD, the confusion and hurt over not knowing why someone they love suddenly can’t be with them is immense. I’m taking part because I want to help promote the one-to-one friendship that goes beyond Best Buddies. These are friendships for life.
You can join Angela and more than 200 people across Ohio by participating or donating to the Best Buddies Friendship Walk at bestbuddiesfriendshipwalk.org/ohio.