Leadership in Best Buddies

Hi everybody!
My name’s Sofie Dalton: I’m one of the incoming Co-Chairs of the YLC and this is my second year of the council. I oversee several initiatives on the YLC including the YLC Blogs! I am also currently the President of my college’s Best Buddies chapter. I’m so excited to be a guest writer today and to share my Best Buddies story with you all!
I found out about Best Buddies my freshman year of high school. I was looking for a club where I could make friends and become a part of a larger community that was making an impact. I was in the school newspaper and one of the senior editors was also the president of my high school’s Best Buddies chapter. She told me about Best Buddies and encouraged me to join. I thought it sounded fun so I decided to give it a try.
The first Best Buddies event that I went to was the match party, where everyone found out their buddy for the year. Even though I was not matched in a one-to-one friendship, what struck me about that event was how joyful and inclusive everyone was. I had people coming up and saying hi to me and I instantly felt like I was a part of the community even though I was new. I left that event with a huge smile on my face and I knew I would be going to future events. 
All the Best Buddies events I went to after that reaffirmed what I felt that day at the match party: Best Buddies was a truly inclusive, welcoming community that made everyone feel like they were a part of something. I’ve been in many different clubs and communities where I felt like I had to work so hard to belong or that people didn’t really see me there. At Best Buddies events, people went out of their way to talk to me and make me feel included, from the seniors who offered to drive me places to the freshman who chatted with me at the refreshments tables. I’ve met some of my best friends, who I consider family, through this awesome organization.
Best Buddies recognizes that everyone wants to have genuine friendships, be a part of a positive community, and to feel loved and valued. It ensures that people of all abilities have that opportunity and it changes people’s lives for the better. I became so passionate about the mission of Best Buddies that I applied to be an officer for my school’s chapter my sophomore year. My junior year I became Co-Vice President, and senior year I became Chapter Co-President! I also decided to apply for the YLC and got in; now I am honored to be one of our Co-Chairs and to work alongside amazing leaders from across the US and Canada who are dedicated to creating positive change.
What I want people to take away from my story is that your impact can go a long way. One person inviting me to a Best Buddies event changed my life and brought me so many amazing people and memories. Now, I am able to have an impact on others through being a leader in my chapter and in the YLC. I want others to be able to have the same experience I had and to feel that sense of belonging that comes with finding your people. I may just be one person but I know I can have an effect on those around me through the power of spreading inclusion.
To quote Theodore Roosevelt, “do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” I encourage all of you to do what you can, with what you have, where you are today to make your community a more inclusive place for all.
-Sofie 

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