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USU’s Best Buddies program is named largest college chapter in the world

September 29th, 2015 Posted in USU Life

By Natalie Deaver

This year Best Buddies International named Utah State University’s Best Buddies program the largest college chapter in the world.

With more than 300 members, the growing organization “has increased its numbers by 33 percent just this year,” said Stratt Caputo, the current president of Best Buddies at USU, and “it plans to keep the momentum going for years to come.”

Best Buddies is a non-profit organization committed to establishing lifelong friendships with those who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Many of the members recruited this year were from the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Resources majoring in the Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation.

Because of the increase of volunteers, this year a new structure of leadership was implemented for the chapter. In the past there were only three or four members collaboratively working on every aspect of the organization.

“This year we have divided the responsibilities and have many chapter members involved in leadership and fundraising,” said Breton Day, the vice president of buddy relationships.

The new structure includes a president overseeing the Best Buddies organization at USU, a vice president of events, a vice president of buddy relationships and a vice president of operations. Within each committee there are several jobs assigned to members of the organization who volunteer to help.

Best Buddies has spread its reach to more than 425 campuses worldwide and Utah State has the largest chapter of all. This has had a major impact on the amount of funding the organization has received.

“We mention to people and businesses that we are the largest in the world and they are more willing and excited to help us out whether financially or with labor,” said Makaila Kelso, the vice president of events. “We couldn’t do it without our generous sponsors and our title as biggest chapter in the world has helped us get even more than ever before.”

With the influx of funding, USU’s Best Buddies plans to allocate the money for expanding its reach in Cache Valley to everyone with intellectual and developmental disabilities and also to create larger, more elaborate events.

To continue the increase in numbers for years to come, USU’s Best Buddies organization aims to ensure positive experiences within the program and in the relationships between the buddies.

Since Caputo joined the organization nine years ago he has had the same buddy.

“Even after I graduate and leave the program, I will be friends with my buddy. In fact, his parents have named me his guardian if anything were to happen to them,” Caputo said. “Because of Best Buddies I have made a friend that will be in my life till the day I die.”


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