Best Buddies fosters friendships with Halloween party

Debby Hernandez, Administration Editor

Best Buddies members wore scary Scream masks, donned vivid Snow White dresses, impersonated characters like the Ninja Turtles and Beetlejuice, and wore full-piece animal costumes during their annual Halloween Party on Sunday in Lawson Hall.

Best Buddies is a volunteer group that creates opportunities for people with disabilities to form friendships with students and receive help in areas such as leadership development.

The group works with not-for-profit organizations such as Charleston Transitional Facilities Illinois and CCAR Industries, which provide services to individuals with disabilities.

About 70 people with disabilities from those organizations are matched with Best Buddies members.

Best Buddies members gather with their buddies at least once a month for a day of fun and entertainment.

Fun and games at the party included a cakewalk and a bucket toss game, in which participants threw a ball into a bucket to get candy as a prize.

Members also created mini ghosts with their buddies with multi-favored lollipops, Kleenex, orange-colored strings and markers.

Rachel Kinzinger a senior special education major, said Sigma Rho Epsilon, a student organization in the department of special education, works hand-in-hand with Best Buddies.

“Best Buddies has parties every month and we usually come and help out so they can be with their buddies while we organize the activities,” Kinzinger said.

She said being part of Sigma Rho Epsilon is a great way to connect with other students with similar interests.

“It is a great opportunity to get to know other special education majors and work with other organizations,” She said. “We get that experience that will help us a lot in the future.”

Meghan Carroll, the president of Best Buddies, said this is her fifth year as a member.

“I met great friends through the program,” she said. “While this is my last semester, I plan on keeping in contact.”

Buddies also got to decorate their paper brown “treat” bags with crayons, multi-colored construction paper and other supplies.

Kaitlyn Lacy, a junior special education major, said being part of the organization serves as an opportunity to get a one-on-one relationship with people in the community.

“They have the best personality,” Lacy said. “They are very happy and optimistic.”

Bethany Hudson, a junior special education major, said that in her first year as a member, she has learned disabled persons’ basic way of communication.

“I never knew sign language. They have different signs for different things, like a sign for the bathroom,” she said. “It’s kind of neat; it’s like they have their own language.”

Hudson said she also enjoys spending time with her buddy outside the organization.

“I have went to his house, watched a movie and hung out,” She said. “He loves ice cream.”

Other activities included a movie and hangout area where members socialized with their buddies while enjoying the variety of treats and drinks offered.

Mallory Kowaleski, a senior special education major, said she has worked with Best Buddies throughout all her college years.

“It’s like any other friendship,” Kowaleski said. “Like everyone else they have their preferences and their clique of friends too.”

She said she has worked with her buddy for some time already and has learned that people with disabilities can also be picky individuals.

“When we go out to eat, he has to have a cheeseburger with two pickles, two lettuces, and two pieces of cheese inside,” Kowaleski said.

Jeff Lester, a senior special education major, said being a member of Best Buddies has led him to create close connections.

“This is where I met my girlfriend,” Lester said.

He said Best Buddies also brought him a new friend.

“I hung out with my buddy over the summer,” Lester said. “You make a friend; it’s not just a buddy system.”

Debby Hernandez can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].