Best Buddies ‘ball out” at the basketball game

Lexi Delgado

GCHS Best Buddies basketball game did better than ever this year, raising more than $2000 through the silent auction and an excellent scoring game. A big shout out to Brett Kay for selling Blackhawks tickets, Coleen Barbenera for donating merchandise signed by Ninja, a famous Fortnite video game player, and of course, the O’Conner family, for staying loyal to the program and never failing to donate. They helped make it a record year for fundraising.

“[Best Buddies is] an international organization that promotes friendship, and inclusion for people with intellectual developmental disabilities,” said Shari Snavely, one of the sponsors for the program.

The Best Buddies Program is for high school students with IDD, intellectual and developmental disabilities. GCHS and many

support inclusion through the nationwide program Best Buddies.

“It’s a great way for the community to learn about what inclusion of students with disabilities looks like at Grayslake Central and how we can spread that message within our community and beyond,” said Nella Sanders, a new special education teacher and a GCHS alumna.

The Best Buddies game usually fundraises money to go towards the international global Best Buddies organization, which allowsGCHS to claim an affiliation with them.Fundraisers like the basketball game and later on this spring, the Spread the Word to End the Word Campaign, an international campaign supported by Best Buddies and Special Olympics to end the derogatory use of the “R” word, allow the buddies to shine.

Like Sanders says, “I think it gives them the opportunity to shine and feel important

and feel like the spotlight is on them and show others like ‘hey look what I can do,’ and just showing them that they are valued just as much as a varsity athlete.”

Seeing others support at the basketball game and accompany them into having a good time for the night can really boost buddies’ moods. This was clear from the lively and high energy vibe at the game.

Best Buddies really opens up the door for students with IDD to feel appreciated, just as any student would want to.

The program is always looking for more volunteers; they can never have enough. New members excite the IDD students and are very appreciated by the sponsors.

A simple fist bump or a high five, Sanders said, will change a student’s entire mood for the rest of the day. And from there on, they’ll never forget your face and consider you as a friend of theirs.