Author:  Lindsey Eaton, File Clerk at Emily R. Taylor, Attorney PLLC

Best Buddies aims to create opportunities for one-to-one friendships, leadership development, integrated employment and inclusive for people with and without disabilities  There are over 20 Best Buddies chapters in Arizona and Best Buddies hosts fun events like a Buddy Prom, so chances are high that you experienced it, or if you haven’t experienced it been around it.

My name is Lindsey Eaton. I first joined the program when I was a freshman at Chaparral High School in hopes of meeting new friends. My life instantly changed when I joined Best Buddies. I quickly became a popular student who had lunch with friends, went to Prom and Homecoming or who had friends to celebrate my birthday with. My friend Elaine and I enjoyed many fun memories including celebrating our birthdays together, going to Best Buddies Arizona events like Buddy Prom together and going to lunch together. Elaine and I still remain good friends. We recently ran into each other my match meeting for Best Buddies Citizens. The goal of Best Buddies is to create lifelong friendships. I still talk to my peer buddies from high school, Elaine and Katie! Katie and I are going to try to get together when she is in town over Christmas break!

Let’s fast forward to today, I am still involved in Best Buddies but now in a different capacity. Best Buddies Arizona recently launched our adult friendship program, Citizens. I recently got paired with my peer buddy and friend Kara through this program in June. Kara and I met each other in December of 2018 at the kickoff for the Citizens program and instantly connected. We talk and laugh together when we hang out. Kara is already helping me come out my shell more. When we went to the Diamondbacks game with Best Buddies recently, we both sang  Take Me out to the Ball Game during the 7th Inning Stretch in the Legends Suite.  We have gone bowling, gone to get ice cream and have gone to a Diamondbacks game with our Citizens friends. We text each other every three days and alternate with who plans the one-to-one activities we do. She’s planning the next two as I planned the last two. Even though it’s been just under two months of friendship, I feel like I have known Kara for years.

Best Buddies has given me the confidence to speak in front of large groups ranging from 100 to 3,000 about how the program has changed my life and my journey with Autism as a Buddy Ambassador. When most people cannot stand public speaking, I love it! One of my biggest aspirations is to one of these years speak at the Closing Ceremonies for the Best Buddies International Leadership Conference, which is held in Bloomington, Indiana at Indiana University. Interning at Best Buddies Arizona’s office in the summer of 2017 also taught me employ-ability skills that I use at work these days including how to take feedback, how to multitask and how to interact with my co-workers.

For more info about Best Buddies, I invite you to please check out http://www.bestbuddies.org/arizona and check out a PSA about the program: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZceYjmi-YzQ!!

This article is written for informational purposes only and should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation.