Message from our State Director
Best Buddies Tennessee, I am honored and humbled to be your new State Director. Having a son with an intellectual and developmental disability, the Best Buddies mission has been close to my heart for over four years. Beginning primarily as a volunteer and then serving as the Area Director of our Memphis office, I look forward to the opportunities this new position affords for the success of our program. Please join me in congratulating Anneliese Barron, our former State Director, as she steps into her new role with Best Buddies International. Anneliese clearly paved the way for the successes of Best Buddies Tennessee with her efforts and passion.
So far, 2016 is shaping up to be a great year! It began as Best Buddies Tennessee was selected by Carnival Memphis as one of the three charities to receive a grant. They awarded us $42,000 making it possible to open ten (10) new school chapters and create several more friendships across the MidSouth.
Of course, the year would not be complete without our infamous Best Buddies Prom. We were able to host three (3) proms across the state in our fabulous host cities of Nashville, Memphis and Knoxville. It warmed my heart to hear the sound of uninhibited laughter and singing from thousands of our attendees… reminding us all what a difference friendship can make for our buddy pairs.
Just recently, our Memphis participants showed up BIG TIME in support of our 3rd annual Best Buddies Friendship Walk.With the help of generous sponsors and volunteers, our school and corporate teams were not only able to exceed our financial goal, but also create an inclusive event full of smiles and laughter around every corner. Furthermore, being one of the most anticipated events of the year, our Nashville Best Buddies Gala & Casino Night raised over $265,000 alone this year. Amazing!! With over 500 guests, you could feel the passion and dedication throughout the ballroom. Both of these events exemplified firsthand the power of inclusion, as well as its ability to encourage and excite a community.
To date, Best Buddies is represented in over 100 middle schools, high schools and colleges across Tennessee. These chapters spark new friendships and generate genuine happiness among our students on a daily basis. I am so excited to announce that we recently expanded our student outreach by launching several of our programs at the elementary school level. In addition, our Best Buddies Jobs Program is continuing to successfully provide gainful, supported employment for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout our community.
With a record number of participants and leaders attending our 27th Annual Best Buddies Leadership Conference at Indiana University, this year is sure to be one for the books.
Of course, these accomplishments would not be possible without our Executive Board members, dedicated volunteers, devoted staff, generous sponsors, foundation donors, individual donors and corporate partners. It truly takes a village.
Thank you for being a part of Best Buddies Tennessee. Your friendship touches my heart.