In 1989, Anthony Shriver started the Best Buddies nonprofit organization with a clear aim to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities socially integrate in the community through one-to-one friendship, employment and leadership development. Over the course of the last 28 years, Best Buddies has helped over one million people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities. So even if Best Buddies isn’t a household name to everyone, there’s a very good chance the work they’ve done has impacted your life or the life of someone you know.
FROM THE GROUND UP
Building such an organization has been no small feat, even if Anthony Shriver comes from a family where creating community and social programs isn’t exactly new territory. His mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded the Special Olympics, while his father Robert Sargent Shriver was the driving force behind the creation of the Peace Corps. What started out as a single chapter of Best Buddies has grown to more than 2,300 middle school, high school, and college chapters worldwide.
Funding for the program comes from a number of corporate sponsors in addition to individual donors. One of the main fundraising tools is what’s called the Best Buddies Challenge–a cycling experience where participants either fundraise or directly donate to earn a spot at one of three exclusive Challenges each year located in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts; Hearst Castle, California; and Miami, Florida.
The cycling component of Best Buddies has been around for the past 20 years and has proven to be a rather good fit for the organization, both in terms of fundraising and connection to the community. “Initially, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to ride on a tandem with my mom”, Shriver said. “A tandem represents our core values and principles of helping someone along. I jumped on a bike and fell in love with it right away. Now, I generally ride 200-230 miles a week and have a goal of riding 10,000 miles a year; hopefully I’ll get there. The fitness is amazing, but just as important is that it’s a clean, healthy way to network. I met a guy at a traffic light and he ended up becoming a million dollar donor.”
AN EXPERIENCE OF A LIFETIME
With the final Best Buddies Challenge of 2017 coming up on November 17th in Miami, we asked Shriver what someone attending might expect. “The route, the food at the rest stops, showers at the finish, the jerseys and how they fit, it’s a 5-Star event,” Shriver told us. “After hearing from some of the Best Buddies beneficiaries and understanding the mission, seeing how they’re giving back to the community, you’ll be touched emotionally”.
Topical Edge is proud to have recently become a Best Buddies sponsor, which is something that came about due to Shriver’s own passion for cycling and wanting to feel better during and after a ride. “When I was riding hard the burning was incredible; I’d always have to muscle through it. The next morning my legs would be lethargic and it was a mind game to get back on the bike. With Topical Edge, the recovery is superior and I don’t have the same aches and muscle soreness. I think it’s a great fit for any cyclist period.” That’s good news since Topical Edge P&R Lotion will be supplied to all Best Buddies Challenge participants.
For more information on Best Buddies please visit www.bestbuddies.org.