People Who Have Come Alive

22 Jan


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At the University of Texas, they say: “What Happens Here Changes the World.”

One of the student organizations that waves that banner is Best Buddies, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a global volunteer movement to create friendship opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities. One of the individuals who waves this banner is Stephen Henry – and he has come alive.

In Best Buddies, students are paired up in one-on-one friendships with citizens in the surrounding Austin area who have intellectual disabilities. Members of Best Buddies encompass all aspects of the student body and they strive to promote enriching and lasting friendships between the “College Buddies” (students from the university) and “Buddies” (Austin community members). Today, the organization is 200 members strong, up from 75 members just four years ago.

Stephen has been involved with Best Buddies at UT for his entire college career where he has served on the activities committee and as treasurer.

More importantly, however, he has been a College Buddy to Tyler, a 17 year old high school student with Down Syndrome.

“He (Tyler) loves to play sports almost as much as he loves to hug every girl at our events. He is one of my best friends and has done more for me than I could ever do for him. He has taught me how to be kind and love everyone without regard for what a person looks like.”

Stephen believes that the true strength of Best Buddies at UT is their dedication to aligning the passions of the Buddies with the goals and enthusiasms of the students in the organization.

The members of Best Buddies believe friendship can change the world – and Stephen is a perfect example of the exemplary character and friendship they foster.

Stephen said it best, “I will always be involved in Best Buddies because it brings the most unlikely of pairs together and creates a lifelong friendship. Tyler and I will be playing sports, going to the movies, and having fun together for many more years. Even though I will be leaving college soon, there will always be time for my buddy Tyler.”

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