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Best Buddies Games fundraiser brings people together

<p>University of Richmond students and buddies pose for a group photo during the Best Buddies Games. <em>Photo courtesy of Avery Maley</em></p>

University of Richmond students and buddies pose for a group photo during the Best Buddies Games. Photo courtesy of Avery Maley

The intramural fields were full of activity and laughter Saturday, March 30, as students and buddies played games, ate food and socialized at the fourth annual Best Buddies Games. 

Best Buddies is a nonprofit organization dedicated to forging friendships between volunteers and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

The games were co-sponsored by Best Buddies and the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, the latter of which will be officially coming on campus fall semester of 2019. All of the proceeds went to the Virginia Special Olympics.

At the games, students and buddies played corn hole, hula hooped and had their faces painted. There were bagels, water balloons and a dunk tank for anyone who wanted to stop by. Participation was free, but donations were encouraged.

Avery Maley, senior and president of the Best Buddies University of Richmond chapter, said the Games were a way for buddies and students to have fun together while raising money for a good cause.

“It’s just a refreshing experience, and you get a new perspective on how you can spend your Saturday,” she said. 

The games were a big success, Maley said, raising over $1,400 for the Virginia Special Olympics.

Maley has been involved with Best Buddies for eight years, starting in high school. She said she had always been drawn to Best Buddies because everyone deserves a friend.

“The point of Best Buddies is to eventually not need a club or organization because inclusion is just seamless in society,” she said. 

The Best Buddies chapter at the University of Richmond has 52 pairs of buddies and students, as well as associate members, who are not paired one-on-one with a specific buddy, Maley said. 

Junior Anthony Santiago said he and his friends loved spending time with Santiago's buddy, Ryan, outside of official Best Buddies events. 

“We’d go sit around Short Pump [Mall], and just chill and get Carvel,” he said. “Refreshing is a good word. It’s just very nice to be able to spend your time like that.”

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Santiago is a member of DKE, and he was involved in fostering the partnership with Best Buddies. Maley said it was important for men to be involved because many buddies were seeking male friendships and role models. 

DKE president James McGuire, junior, said his fraternity was excited to be involved, and he was proud of the success of the games. 

“You do it for the buddies that are here,” he said. “It looks like everyone’s having a great time, so that to me is what makes it a success.”

Will Daniel, 37, was one of the buddies who participated in the games this year. He said he was most excited to see friends and socialize, and also to watch the dunk tank.

Senior Grace Holzer is not a member of Best Buddies, but attended the games. She said that she was excited to be hanging out with the buddies and supporting their event. 

Maley said having a buddy gave her a different perspective, and made otherwise ordinary events feel special.

“My buddy, Lee, who I’ve had for four years, comes to D-hall all the time,” she said. “She absolutely loves it, and it makes D-hall exciting and seem like much more fun than usual.”

Contact contributor Rebecca Rohn at

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