By Sonja Greenfield //@Mom23RN
This past weekend, New England quarterback, Tom Brady participated in the Best Buddies Challenge at the “University of Michigan in the East”, better known to most of you all as Harvard University. This was the 20th anniversary of the Challenge and Brady has been associated with it ever since 2003.
The 20th annual @bestbuddies challenge was last night! I want my kids to grow up in a world where people are recognized and celebrated for the characteristics that make them uniquely themselves because we’re all better when we include everyone. pic.twitter.com/bXDvWfiMNU
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) June 1, 2019
After seeing this tweet from Brady, I wanted to look into this organization more, and what exactly it’s about. After speaking with a couple of friends on Twitter, I was put in contact with Brad Blank, an NFL agent and also a Best Buddies Executive for 30 years.
Blank informed me that Best Buddies started on the campus of Georgetown University in 1989 by Andrew Shriver. He first was interested in being a Big Brother, but he wanted to work with children with intellectual and developmental delays. There was no program, so Shriver started Big Buddies.
However, after he got a letter from Big Brothers/Big Sisters, he had to change the name. It became Best Buddies, which Shriver felt that it better described the relationship between the two participants. From there, Shriver was able to expand the program to different campuses nationwide.
I then asked how Tom Brady got involved. Blank states that he approached Brady early on when he was a rookie. Blank then met with Brady and his sister (who handled most of his affairs then), and they decided to check it out. They rode in a bike race from Boston to Cape Cod. On Cape Cod, they set up an elaborate tent and had a cookout. Brady really liked it and hung around.
As Brady started winning more Super Bowls, the event grew into what it is today. A two-day event that features the Tom Brady Challenge, and then the bike race and cookout. Before Brady, former Patriots such as Drew Bledsoe and Tedy Bruschi headlined the event. Tom Brady is now the Honorary Chair and a Global Ambassador. He was recently in Qatar ahead of the World Cup to help start chapters there.
There are other sports involved in this event besides football and bike racing. There’s also a 5K run, and a 10K walk. Other celebrities have been involved. Basketball players Kyrie Irving and Chris Bosh have done events with Best Buddies, along with former Cowboy running back Emmitt Smith.
Blank states that Best Buddies has 700 chapters in the US and over 50 worldwide. It has also expanded to help people with intellectual and physical disabilities to get housing, jobs, and Ambassadors, where they learn to be an advocate for themselves and others with disabilities.
For more information on the Best Buddies Program, make sure you visit their website www.bestbuddies.org.
Talk Best Buddies and football with Sonja on Twitter @Mom23RN