I met Melissa Todd over 20 years ago when she was “best buddies” with my cousin Laurie. Then I got married, she got married, I moved away, Laurie moved away, they started having children, I started not having children, and we lost touch. Many years later when I moved back to Memphis from NYC, Melissa was one of the first people to reach out to me and take me out to reintroduce me to the city. But then she went and got remarried and had another baby. And we ended up losing touch again.
A few years ago we reconnected on Facebook and I became engaged with all the work she was doing with Best Buddies, an international nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Then I realized that she was responsible for bringing them to Memphis and was their chief fund-raiser. Pretty impressive.
So, of course, I reached out and asked her if she would tell me more about it. We met for brunch, and this is the conversation that followed our personal one – which was funnier, but probably not as appropriate.
I hope you’ll take 20 minutes and let her tell you what Best Buddies is all about, it’s a really cool organization that serves the IDD community, including but not limited to, people with Down syndrome, autism, Fragile X, Williams syndrome, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury and other undiagnosed disabilities. Melissa’s son Hunter was born with 18p- syndrome, 21p- syndrome; ADHD, OCD, myoclonus and scoliosis. Best Buddies has been his first opportunity to have a real friend.
If you want to help by simply eating a good meal, there are still tickets available for the February 29th Agave Maria Charity Dinner Supporting Best Buddies of Memphis Featuring Chef Burch Brown.
If you have a child with an IDD, please check out how you can get involved in Best Buddies. The organization is currently trying to raise funds for their Citizen’s Program which will serve adult’s with IDDs. Maybe you or your company can help make that a reality.
Because we all need friends.