Colonial Middle School Teacher Ansley Dawidziuk was one of twelve people named a Best Buddies Champion for eastern Pennsylvania.
The title recognized their dedication to the Best Buddies program and challenged the dozen to go out and raise money to fund new Best Buddies school groups in Pennsylvania. The eight-week campaign led up to a gala event on Friday, November 15, that honored the Best Buddies Champions and tallied their efforts.
"We all did a great job," said Ms. Dawidziuk. "Together, we raised $95,000 for Best Buddies, and it takes about $1,000 to start a new program. So if you think about it that way, that's a lot of new programs.
Of the 3,000 schools in the state of Pennsylvania, only about 180 feature a Best Buddies program. While Plymouth Whitemarsh High School has had Best Buddies for more than a decade, Colonial Middle School started their program only two years ago.
"Our kids have gotten so much out of it," added Ms. Dawidziuk. "I think it's our time to give back."
Ms. Dawidziuk wasn't the only Colonial School District connection at the gala. The keynote speaker was Jake Riesberg, a Plymouth Whitemarsh High School alum and Ambassador with Best Buddies Pennsylvania.
Best Buddies International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development and inclusive living for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.