Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Best Buddies

Me, Anthony Kennedy Shriver (Founder of Best Buddies), and Robbie (volunteer)
I just got back from speaking at the Best Buddies International Leadership Conference in Bloomington, IN (Go Hoosiers!). This weekend tugged at my heart in a way that I did not expect it to. Never one to turn my back on positive vibes, I welcomed the over flowing emotions and uber positive energy with open arms. I had the chance to meet some of THE most caring and positive individuals ever to be gathered in one place, all 1,600 of them!

I was invited to present the Saturday morning keynote at their global leadership conference for student volunteers. Up to this point, I'd heard of Best Buddies but was not completely familiar with the organization so of course I asked lots of questions and did some research as I was preparing for my session. I was thoroughly impressed with what I learned about Best Buddies on-line, but that was just a tiny little bite of the jumbo size slice. After meeting several of the staff members and student volunteers at the conference I was completely blown away by the mission, purpose and passion of the organization and in total awe of the impact Best Buddies has on thousands of lives.

I was asked to help inspire the students to continue to be great leaders but to be totally honest, I left the conference feeling like I received much more than I could ever have given that weekend. I was deeply moved by this group of people in a way that truly touched my heart, lifted my spirit and filled my soul with the idea that all dreams are possible. And I was only there for 2 days. Imagine if I would have stayed the entire weekend? The staff and volunteers of Best Buddies are changing lives. Their hearts are swelling with unconditional love and affection and their passion practically oozes out of their pores. These people are committed to the mission of Best Buddies in a way that pushes way beyond the definition of dedication; it's more like an overwhelming spirit, an incredible and positive force to be reckoned with. It was an absolute honor to be a part of their leadership weekend. I am officially a Best Buddies groupie!
To learn more about the organization and how to get involved on your campus or in your community please visit their web-site
In awe of the amazing impact a group of passionate people can make,

Me and Hillary Cruz (Ms. Teen USA)

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