Every smile, every hug, and every “I love you” reminds me that one individual can have a profound impact on the lives of others. Since my middle school years, I have found great joy in giving back to the special needs community, and some of my best friendships have been built within it. In high school, I was heavily involved in the Miracle League of Arizona, a nonprofit in my home state that hosts a baseball league specifically for disabled kids and adults. Volunteers are paired with players who have a disability—be it physical or mental—and they learn how to play baseball on a rubber turf (suitable for wheelchairs). This wondrous organization gives individuals who may not normally be able to play baseball the chance to be homerun hitters.
My involvement within Miracle League sustained my joy throughout high school, but I wanted to grow a similar family when I moved away to Texas to attend SMU. Fortunately, I discovered the club Best Buddies on campus—a group of students are paired with a special needs individual in Dallas. At the beginning of my fall semester, I was paired with Ashley. Every month, we hang out and have girl nights, watch movies, go to dinner, sing at church together, and so much more. Since we met back in August, Ashley and I have become best friends. My heart is filled with such joy every day when I receive a text or phone call from her, and I know that I will always have a true friend by my side.
Our SMU Best Buddies chapter pairs with other chapters in Texas to host dances, fundraisers, and other events. This past semester, we had a football party, game nights, and a winter formal. Coming up in the spring, we have our Best Buddies Friendship Walk—a 5K in the heart of Dallas that benefits the special needs community. Ashley and I as well as other SMU buddies have been fundraising for this event, and all the proceeds go directly back to the special needs community. We also have our spring formal to look forward to where we get to dance, eat great food, and sing our hearts out. Best buddies has been monumental in shaping my first year here at SMU—I have met some of my best friends already through it, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds.