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McLarty Daniel Presents Best Buddies Friendship Walk Thomas Stringfellow to perform at inaugural event

Apr 21, 2016 in Press Releases

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

 

Contact:

Sheila Munn

smunn@bentonvillek12.org

Kathy Breed

Breedmack1014@aol.com

 

McLarty Daniel Presents Best Buddies Friendship Walk

Thomas Stringfellow to perform at inaugural event

 

Bentonville, Ark. (April 20, 2016)…Best Buddies will hold its 2016 Inaugural Best Buddies Friendship Walk on Saturday, April 23, 2016 at Lawrence Plaza in Bentonville.  The Friendship Walk will raise funds and awareness to bring a Best Buddies office to Northwest Arkansas.  The organization creates opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD); more than 200 of the organization’s supporters will come together to walk for friendship and the overall enhancement of the lives of people with IDD.  Walkers with and without disabilities will enjoy a morning of fun at Lawrence Plaza.

Best Buddies is a groundbreaking nonprofit founded in 1989 by Anthony K. Shriver, whose mission is to establish a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with IDD.

Students at elementary schools, middle schools, junior highs, high schools, and the University of Arkansas will form teams and raise donations for the expansion effort to open a Best Buddies office in Northwest Arkansas.  Registration is free and available at https://bestbuddiesfriendshipwalk.org/bentonville/ .  Best Buddies NWA invites school, corporate, and community teams to join the event.

“We want these kids to have all the same things”, says Sheila Munn, an Adaptive PE Coach in the Bentonville Public Schools and Co-Chair of the Best Buddies Friendship Walk.  “We want them to have friends, big smiles on their faces, and for Best Buddies to build confidence and self-esteem.”  “This opportunity is all about inclusion”, says Kathy Breed, Co-Chair of the Walk, and a volunteer with the organization.

The less-than-1-mile Friendship Walk begins at Compton Gardens, proceeds thru the Crystal Bridges trail, and empties onto “B” Street, ending on 3rd Street.  The organization anticipates having 200 walkers at the event, which will coincide with the Diversabilities Expo that will be held at Lawrence Plaza.  100% of funds raised will stay in NWA where we will support as many as 15 chapters at local schools.

Blair Cromwell, Vice President of Communications for Visit Bentonville, will serve as the event’s emcee.  She has been described as “creative, energetic and ambitious,” and she will bring excitement, energy, and a passion for the community to the job.

BHS Chamber Choir and members of the Athletes with Special Needs community will perform the National Anthem at 9:55am.  The Best Buddies Friendship Walk begins at 10am and will be led by Molly Rhodes, a 19-year old Bentonville resident who attends University of Central Arkansas.   Molly is a member of the Amputee Blade Runner Team.  She is competing this May in the Ragnar Relay on the first all amputee team, and she is the only female on the roster.  She will be available to sign autographs at the Girls on the Run Booth after the Friendship Walk.

Zane Smith, a 16 year old student at BHS who also happens to have a visual impairment, will perform a dance set after the Friendship Walk.  Says Smith, “I began dancing a year and a half ago, and my favorite music is anything that moves me.” 

 

Following Smith, Thomas Stringfellow, Season 15 American Idol Series Finale Contestant, will entertain the audience with a 6-song set.  Stringfellow, now 17 and a junior at BHS, started singing in the 5th grade.  When he got up on the stage and began to sing, someone said, “There’s the next American Idol.”  The rest is history; he’s been singing ever since.  Thomas believes that “(i)f you have a dream, go ahead and grab it.”   Best Buddies NWA is thrilled to have Thomas Stringfellow as part of the Inaugural Friendship Walk line-up.

Both talented individuals will be available to sign autographs after their performances.

To learn more about the Best Buddies Friendship Walk, or to register to walk, please visit www.bestbuddiesarkansas.org.   To volunteer for the event, go to http://www.signupgenius.com/go/70a0c45aea72f4-friendship or visit www.signupgenius.com and enter keywords Friendship Walk 2016. 

 

About Best Buddies International

 Best Buddies® is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Founded in 1989 by Anthony K. Shriver, Best Buddies is a vibrant organization that has grown from one original chapter to almost 1,500 middle school, high school, and college chapters worldwide. Today, Best Buddies’ seven formal programs – Middle Schools, High Schools, Colleges, Citizens, e-Buddies® , Jobs and Ambassadors – engage participants in each of the 50 states and in 50 countries, positively impacting the lives of nearly 700,000 people with and without disabilities around the world. As a result of their involvement with Best Buddies, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities secure rewarding jobs, live on their own, become inspirational leaders, and make lifelong friendships. For more information, please visit www.bestbuddies.org, facebook.com/bestbuddies or twitter.com/bestbuddies.

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