Students eat Thanksgiving dinner with their ‘Best Buddy’


Chynna Miller

Heather Gebke, a sophomore communication disorders and sciences major, makes beaded braclets and neckless with her Best Buddy, Bret Hackett, a Charleston resident, during the Best Buddies Thanksgiving Dinner on Sunday in the basement of Lawson Hall.

Chynna Miller, Photo Editor

While sitting and making bead bracelets, Heather Gebke, a sophomore communication disorder and sciences major, said she liked being able to call, talk and hang out with her Best Buddy, Bret Hackett.

The whole basement was full of crafts, bingo, pizza and friends as the Eastern’s Best Buddies had their Thanksgiving Dinner on Sunday afternoon in Lawson Hall.

Best Buddies is a non-profit organization that aims to make one-on-one friendships with people with disabilities in 54 countries all over the world.

At Eastern, students are paired up with “Buddies” from 15 different homes that house adults with disabilities around the community.

Sunday’s dinner was part of the monthly parties that are put on by the students for their “Buddies” so they can spend time with one another.  Many of the “Buddies” have trouble getting out of the house so having a party ensures that they get to do something monthly.

Melissa Jones-Bromenshenkel, the advisor of Best Buddies, said “A lot of the ‘Buddies’ don’t have a lot of family connections in the area, so it’s nice for them to be able to get out and have fun.”

Katlyn Mulvihill, the president of the organization, said this month’s party was to show appreciation for the students and the buddies.

“We wanted to have a Thanksgiving party so everyone can say what they’re thankful for,” Mulvihill said, “We want everyone to have a good time together.”

Students not only hold monthly parties for the “Buddies,” they also spend individual time with their assigned buddy. The ‘Buddies’ get together outside of monthly parties and do activities together, call each other and keep contact via Facebook.

“We went to Crackle Barrel, we’ve played Monopoly, we played Scattergories,” Hackett said, “ and this week we’re going to Dairy Queen.”

Recently, the students raised over $300 by hosting a Can-Shaking fundraiser to raise money for the organization at Rural King and Wal-Mart. “It was nice because we got to tell the community what ‘Best Buddies’ was,” Gebke said, “and for people who knew who we were they were like ‘yeah we’ll donate.’”

Revell McDonald, a Charleston resident, said that the organization and means a lot to him and other “Buddies” in the community.

“They’re taking time out of school or work to spend time with these individuals,” McDonald said.

McDonald spoke to the students on Tuesday during the “Best Buddies” meeting about the impact of the students on the Buddies. He told the students they weren’t just doing “Best Buddies” for a class, but to make a difference in his life and the life of the other buddies.

“I’m thankful to have an organization like this who cares about individuals and their disabilities,” McDonald said, “Who’s willing to go above and beyond and show that they’re human beings first and their disability is last.”


Chynna Miller can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]