Best Buddies is trying to erase the word “retard” by holding a race of their own. On Sunday, April 3, Best Buddies held an event sponsored by Mayor Dennis Tyler at the canon commons in downtown Muncie.
Banners and posters were strung up around Ball State announcing Tyler’s presence at the event. To everyone’s surprise, Tyler didn’t show up.
The opening was delayed as Hannah Lugar, the Ball State chapter president of Best Buddies, tried to get a hold of Tyler. “We spoke to them on Friday to make sure everything was in place,” Lugar said, “but none of the roads were blocked off, the police weren’t there, and I couldn’t get a hold of the mayor.” Tyler could not be reached for comment.
The race continued without Tyler’s presence. In fact, greater numbers came out to support the race than any Best Buddies event that Taylor Herd, the Buddy Director, has seen in her three years with the group. The first year had nearly 100 people show up, and this year had over 140 preregistered attendants.
“There was a big showing,” Herd said. “More than we expected. It really gave me a chance to socialize and get to know more people.”
The money that was raised from the event went towards Hillcroft Services, where Herd works. It also went to the organizations Beyond I Can and the Erskine Green Training Institute. Many of the buddies are involved with these programs, which help people with disabilities find and maintain work. “Whatever your disability is, they’ll help you get through that and find work,” Herd said.
Best buddies also works with people who are disabled. They pair people who are disabled with other members of their community to form a friendship. The two text, attend biweekly group sessions and hang out on their own time. “They want to have those friendships and they want to be a part of the community, “Lugar said about Best Buddies, “It’s giving people that chance to step out of their comfort zone and realize that people who have disabilities deserve to have a chance just like anyone else does.”
Brittney Pearson is a buddy that attends every event. She moved to Muncie a few years ago, and she said that joining Best Buddies really helped her fit in and feel accepted in the community.
“I love my best buddy, Hope,” Pearson said, “She’s my best friend. We always have so much fun.” Best Buddies plans to keep trying to erase the “R” word with more events to help the community learn more about people with disabilities. To find more of them, visit ballstatebestbuddies.weebly.com.