Best Buddies Chapter Wins State Award

Carlyle Klein, Staff Writer

Staples High School seems to have a club for everything.  Whether you’re into bicycling or sailing or astronomy, it’s here.  For those looking to make a personal connection and help someone with a disability, there’s Best Buddies.

Last June, the Staples chapter was awarded The Outstanding High School Chapter in Connecticut.  Eleanor Powell, the program manager who works with schools in Connecticut, explained that the Staples chapter “went above and beyond and participated in every event, raised money for all of our fundraisers and had really strong student leaders as well as a terrific advisor.”

The award wasn’t given lightly.  Club advisor Patty McQuone, along with the other club members, compiled a packet detailing the clubs accomplishments.  The packet was then sent to Powell who passed it onto Anthony Kennedy Shriver, the founder of Best Buddies International.

Two months later, McQuone was told by another program manager, Cassandra Henderson, that they had won.  She remembers being “stunned and excited” upon hearing the news.

Sharing that same excitement was co-president Joe Aftab ’13, who exclaimed, “I couldn’t wait to get up onto the stage to receive the award in front of about 1,500 people and represent the club and the school!”

Last year, the Staples Chapter participated in numerous events.  One of the major events that led the Staples chapter to this award was fundraising for the Best Buddies friendship walk.  Staples raised $1,905, the most of any other participating chapter.  In addition to the friendship walk, Best Buddies members dedicated time to giving back in the community.  They raked leaves for the Clasp Home and baked pies for Thanksgiving, which were then delivered to the ABC house and the Project Return House, both in Westport.

Another memorable event was the 13th Annual Best Buddies Ball hosted by the Staples chapter.  With a “Nations Around the World” theme, live music and food from different countries, this was definitely a night to remember.

This year, Best Buddies plans to grow the club and add some new and exciting events into the mix.

According to McQuone, there is the possibility of a silent auction and a talent show as well as the events from last year.  The club has weekly Tuesday meetings in Room 2012.

Best Buddies has come a long way. Even though she’s proud of the club’s accomplishments, McQuone believes that the club’s true purpose is “helping the buddies to do a lot more and learn how to reach out.”

Best Buddies strives to afford disabled students the opportunity to settle in and feel comfortable in their school setting. Club members work to bring all students together and provide a sense of community.

“I want the kids to have that chance to be included, because when you think about it and you know who they are, they are just like any other kid,” McQuone said. “Let’s give them a chance to have a great high school experience.”