My story begins like many other people you know. As a child, I participated in many activities: baseball, art competitions, singing in church choir; but the one difference I had, despite how busy and surrounded by people I was, was loneliness. Outside of my immediate family, I had only made one real friend. I desperately wanted to develop more friendships and expand my circle.
My world changed when I joined Bet Buddies at Coleman Middle School. The friends I made saw me for my abilities and became my support system. They have empowered me to become the young man I am today. Not only did I gain friends who made my social calendar busier than ever, I gained friends who came to my birthday parties and went to the movies with me; I gained friends who encouraged me to reach for my dreams and develop my leadership skills.
I’ve participated in Best Buddies from middle school, through high school, and now I participate in the University of Southern Florida chapter. I am also an Advanced Ambassador and my goal is to become a Global Ambassador so that I can spread awareness about intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and create opportunities for other people with IDD to gain employment and pursue leadership opportunities.
Since joining Best Buddies, I am happier than I have ever been! I am confident, I know that I am capable of anything I set my mind to, I am a leader, and I feel accepted within my community.
It has given me the confidence to advocate for myself and others with IDD. If I could offer words of encouragement for any other person with IDD, it is that they should stay encouraged and continue to set and work towards their goals because they will achieve them. Best Buddies is your biggest cheerleader and you are capable. You have an entire community of friends to lift you up and support you for your abilities!