Best Buddies hosts caravan at Miromar Outlets to raise funds

Reporter: Andrea Guerrero
Published: Updated:
The Best Buddies Walk will be a caravan instead this year at the Miromar Outlets. (CREDIT: WINK News)

The Best Buddies Walk is the biggest walk in the country set to bring people with intellectual and developmental disabilities together.

But after COVID-19 made them do their walk virtually last year.

This year, they are back with a few adjustments.

The group will be participating in a caravan at the Miromar Outlets in Southwest Florida that begins at 9 to 11 a.m. The caravan is also dedicated to Emma Bullock, a 19-year-old woman who died this year in a crash on I-75. Bullock was a former Best Buddies chapter officer at Estero High School.

The organization is on a mission worldwide to bring an end to the isolation of 200 million people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Since the start of COVID-19, Best Buddies member Stephanie Maffeo said she hasn’t been able to interact with her buddies virtually.

“It’s horrible,” Maffeo said. “We’re all sad because we’re living in a little world.”

Maffeo said they’re expecting cars from across Southwest Florida to participate in the caravan.

The goal of the organization is to raise $45,000 but they’ve already surpassed that by about $10,000.

For many who are part of the program, the friendships they build will last them a lifetime.

Maffeo said being on the spectrum makes it harder to make friends.

But she’s been able to build friendships through Best Buddies.

“Just because a lot of people don’t have friends and best buddies as you can tell by my lovely background, it’s two people who are hugging, and that’s what we’re all about,” Maffeo said. “It’s one family, we’re one big family.”


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