Best Buddies kicks off the year with annual pairing party

The Normal Community Best Buddies chapter held their annual “pairing party” on October 1— pairing 16 students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) with a student buddy without IDD in an effort to build one-to-one friendships. 

The Best Buddies “pairing party” marks the club’s official kickoff for the year.

Before the event, advisors Mrs. Angie Cardiff, Mrs. Erin Sanders, and Mrs. Amy Vesalek reviewed the potential buddies’ applications, matching them with a student sharing similar interests.

During 5th hour, students matched types of candy —Nerds, M&Ms, Milky Ways  — to discover their buddy for the year.

Each week, the students communicate with their buddy — by text, in the hallways at school, through Instagram, or FaceTime… Twice a month the pairs hang out: playing video games, watching movies, bowling… 

The club is also open to associate members, who attend monthly chapter meetings and events, but do not regularly interact one-on-one with a buddy.

The new buddy pairs and associate members upcoming events include a trip to Rader Farms and attending the Oct. 8 football game together, said Cardiff. 

Senior Kyle Gorman joined Best Buddies as a freshman not only to make friends, he said, but because he wanted to make sure that when his younger brother, who has Downs Syndrome, is in “high school one day he [can make] friends through Best Buddies as well.”