Junior Colleen Schmidt remembers when she first learned about Best Buddies. She was a senior at Bel Air High School in Harford County, Maryland, and her mom had encouraged her to participate in the volunteer program.
“For whatever reason, back then I was a little insecure about being a ‘buddy’ to someone with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” the TU communications major admitted. “But the older I got, the more compassion I developed for people who are not exactly like me.”
Today, Schmidt has been a volunteer with Best Buddies Maryland for 15 months and has loved every minute of the experience. Her ‘best buddy’ is slightly older (Schmidt is 24, her buddy is 35), but the age difference presents no problem.
“We are truly friends now,” Schmidt said. “She’s a lot of fun to hang out with and she actually teaches me a lot. We go to the mall, we go out to dinner or we go to a movie. She helps me be more grateful and appreciative for what I have in my life. And she brings out the jovial, fun side of my personality!”
“I’m so glad I became involved with this organization,” she added.
Once Schmidt arrived at Towson University, she realized that Best Buddies Maryland actually has a chapter on campus — one of several chapters at area colleges and high schools.
On Saturday, Nov. 14, Best Buddies Maryland will come to Towson University in a different way, as runners and walkers will gather for the second-annual Best Buddies 5K & 1 Mile Fun Run. This year, the 5K and fun run will be a sport-themed event; participants are encouraged to wear their favorite jersey or team apparel.
The 1 Mile Fun Run will stay on the track at Johnny Unitas Stadium®, while the 5K will be a road race around the greater Towson community, starting and ending at the stadium. Charm City Run Events will be providing the timing and race management. All runners will receive a BB5K commemorative t-shirt. There will also be entertainment, live music, food and many fun post-race activities. The Baltimore Ravens cheerleaders are also expected to make a special appearance.
Proceeds Saturday’s race at TU will benefit Best Buddies’ life-changing services that provide friendship, leadership, and job opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout Maryland.
For more information about the race and how to register, go to the Best Buddies Maryland event website.