The best parts of best buddies


Miranda Ward, Assistant Lifestyle Editor

There is something so heartwarming and rewarding about getting the opportunity to spend time and make friends with those who have an intellectual or developmental disability. Whitewater’s chapter of Best Buddies makes that possible through St. Coletta’s Parish. But, what is the Best Buddies program? 

 Best Buddies is a global organization that pairs volunteers with an individual who has an intellectual or developmental disability and provides an environment for them to spend time together. During these gatherings, the buddy pairs will get to know one another while participating in fun activities, in the hopes of building a lifelong friendship that benefits both the volunteer and the individual with a disability. There is a wide age range for this program, from teens to senior citizens, allowing  individuals with disabilities the opportunity to create and maintain meaningful relationships through every stage of their lives. The UW-Whitewater chapter typically works with older individuals, usually within the age range of 30 to 50. This offers a neat insight into the lives of older individuals, creating a fun and unique relationship between the participants and their Buddy.

Each month, students within the Whitewater community are transported to St. Coletta’s Parish to spend the day with their Buddy. The time together is spent catching up with one another, coloring, playing games, or whatever else is planned for the monthly event. 

Chapter President, Anna Guros, reflected on her time spent with Best Buddies throughout the years, “It gives me something to look forward to, once a month. It’s kind of a good way to get away from campus; to be able to interact with someone in essence that is different from you. It exposes you to new perspectives and experiences.”

Guros, a Senior at UW-Whitewater, has been a very influential part of Best Buddies this year. She became the Chapter president after being a participant in Best Buddies since her freshman year of college. Her role has since changed, taking on more responsibilities after becoming the chapter president. 

Kara Blangin has been a part of the Best Buddies organization since high school and is set to take over as the chapter president this following school year. She has had an unique experience with Best Buddies. 

“I joined Best Buddies when I was a junior in high school, and ever since I joined I knew it was something I wanted to pursue in the future. I also volunteered at the special olympics and it was an amazing experience working with the buddies,” said Blangin.

Long time Best Buddy participant, Dan Brand, who lives at St. Coletta’s Parish in Jefferson Wisconsin, opened up about how he got involved with Best Buddies. 

“I enjoy visiting with people, playing games, and doing special activities. I also like going outside and bowling and a lot of different things like coloring and talking to college kids. I learned about this from other staff members. They told me about it when I first filled out an application to come here. I’ve been with Best Buddies for quite some time,” said Brand.

Best Buddies was heavily affected by Covid 19.  This is the first year since the pandemic started that UW-Whitewater students have been able to visit with their Buddies in person again. The Buddies usually visited UW-Whitewaters campus during the holiday season, but were unable to this year due to high Covid rates in Whitewater. However, Brand is hopeful that Best Buddies will continue to be in person, and have restrictions lifted this upcoming year. He was ecstatic to be able to visit in person this year and when asked what he enjoys most about Best Buddies, Brand stated he enjoyed visiting and talking with people and also discussing upcoming events. It will be interesting to see what the upcoming months bring.

The UW-Whitewater chapter of Best buddies will continue to meet once a month to spend time with those who are a part of the program.  They remain optimistic for the upcoming years, to be able to build lifelong friendships through this organization. 

To go to Best buddies website to learn more about this organization click the link HERE

To learn more about St. Coletta’s Parish and their organization click the link  HERE