Impact Story – Best Buddies

Best Buddies International is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

“Best Buddies has changed me for the better and I can’t imagine my life without it. I hope one day I can help save someone’s life with Best Buddies the same way it saved me.” – Jasilyn Sitzmann

Jasilyn Sitzmann is the secretary of Plant High School’s Best Buddies chapter. She decided to join Best Buddies because of the message of inclusion and friendship portrayed by everyone involved. Jasilyn never imagined she would fall hopelessly in love with everyone in the program, and later realize her calling in life was Special Education. She was born with a severe bilateral cleft lip and palate and had to have 22 surgeries to correct her deformity. Jasilyn suffered years of bullying due to the scars; she was told she was incomplete and made to feel invaluable. Once Jasilyn started high school she met Lily Bonbrest the president at Plant High School’s Best Buddies chapter. She didn’t judge Jasilyn for her imperfections and neither did anyone else. Jasilyn was paired in a one-to-one friendship with Jacob Swann and he opened her eyes to the love and inclusion that was missing from her life. They began going to movies like Frozen 2 and having dance parties just because they felt like it. Jacob showed Jasilyn that true happiness consists of just being yourself, and that is ultimately is the mission of the Best Buddies program. Recently, Jasilyn has decided her calling in life is Best Buddies and she is dedicating the next few years towards becoming an ESE teacher to hopefully inspire others to make the life changing decision to step out of their comfort zone and become a part of something far bigger than themselves.

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