Best Buddies has found its newest champions.
Wednesday, the mentor program that offers buddies for adults and children with special needs announced its top Champions that will compete for donations over an eight-week period. SMU Student Body President Ramon Trespalacios and senior finance major and fashion blogger Alex Small found themselves among the top 10.
“There are a lot of really great causes out there and this is one that people need to be aware of,” Small said. “I am ready to do everything I can to raise funds for this cause because I see how much special people can light up our world.”
While the two, the only college students among the top 10, are excited to give back to the special needs community, they came to this nomination from very different beginnings.
Trespalacios went to a few Best Buddies meetings as a freshman but never got very involved in the program, though he volunteered with a similar program in high school with special needs individuals.
“You realized that you need to treat everyone with care and love,” Trespalacios said. “We want everyone to have the same opportunities even if we aren’t all born with the same abilities or talents.”
He plans to raise at least $3,000 for the organization using his social media experience and reaching out to students and strangers around the Dallas community. So far, he’s calculated that if 300 students contributed $10, or in his own words, “two Honey butter Chicken Biscuits,” he would be able to reach his financial objective.
“At the end of the day, my goal isn’t just to raise money, it’s to create this mindset that we as a community need to look out for each other,” he said. “Whether they donate $1 or not, I now I’ll be successful if they learn about Best Buddies.”
Small, who runs the fashion and lifestyle blog Small 4 Style, got involved in Best Buddies in high school. She joined SMU’s chapter freshman year as the historian.
Her aunt, Emilie, who has Down’s Syndrome, offered to model for Small’s blog and Project Emilie was born. Now, Emilie models for the blog that follows her escapades with Small around Dallas’ fashion scene.
“She’s always been a special person in my life,” Small said. “She’s always teaching me important life lessons and brightening my day without even realizing it.”
Though Small does not have concrete plans for raising funds, she hopes to organize an auction with the help of her fashion friends around the area. She is honored to have been chosen to support a cause so close to her heart.
“They exude love. They don’t see appearance, they only care about whether or not you’re a good person,” she said. “It’s pure love and friendship and Best Buddies facilitates that friendship.”