An Evening to Remember
Our buddies from The Buddy System of Davidson College, who shared valuable time at the Buddy Club each week with our children, also spearheaded the annual Buddy Banquet. This fun filled event started as a Davidson College A Capella benefit concert to raise funding for summer program and camp scholarships. It then morphed into a celebration of our amazing kids, providing them opportunity to share their talents, as well as a little pampering for their families who provide such wonderful care and support. Our kids provided the entertainment and the families enjoyed each other's company as well as a scrumptious meal together. Funds raised were made available to families in our Lake Norman community (via Angels in Need) in the form of scholarships for their children to attend therapeutic camps and programs designed to meet their needs.
Comments (from Buddy Benefit Attendees & Buddy Scholarship Recipients)
2012 3rd Annual Buddy Benefit
"... hats off to you, AGAIN, on your wonderful work with our children and the entire DAV community."
"The concert and all that surrounded it was just magnificent!! I just love the way you celebrate these wonderfully special children in this way. Thank so much for including me in that celebration. It was an honor!!"
"I just wanted to thank you very much for inviting us. Ana did FABULOUS....as her current teacher, past and future teacher, I was so VERY PROUD of her. She was amazing and really shined. My boyfriend said it really opened his eyes and was a great experience for him. He was totally bragging on the program. I think it is truly amazing what all the volunteers and kids have accomplished. We loved attending and look forward to next year."
Bailey Middle School EC Teacher
2010 2nd Annual Buddy Benefit
September 9, 2011
A Community Working Together
Because of your efforts at last year’s Buddy Benefit, you made it easier and more affordable for children with special needs in our community to attend the various summer camps in our area, which are designed specifically to meet their needs. These children have limited choices and opportunities when compared to those of their “typical” peers. And their parents, more often than not, are faced with more financial burdens as their children often require such things as occupational, behavioral, speech, physical and vision therapy; evaluations; tutors; doctor visits; medications, etc.
We are grateful for the partnership between Angels in Need and The Buddy System and for all of you who work so diligently alongside us to help transform this Lake Norman community into one that is, not only more accepting of those with special needs, but is actually an exceptional place to parent these children and an exceptional place for these children to grow up.
Below are a few comments from some of the parents whose children attended a 2011 summer camp because of your help. Please take a moment to read them and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
Angels in Need
"[Our son] had such a wonderful experience at the Music and Art Camp and then the Learn to Bowl camp. He really connected to his counselors this year and had a wonderful time making a craft that made music and then bowling the next week. We really appreciate the scholarships that allowed him to attend the camps this summer. The camps gave him a chance to participate in activities with peers from his class at Davidson and also meet new peers."
"We're so grateful for the Buddy Scholarship that was used this summer for the Sports and More camp. [Our son] attended the camp all summer and we believe it was a critical part of his success and well being. He does well with structure and he enjoyed having fun activities and making new friends. Thank you Buddies for all that you do. It means so much to us all."
"[My daughter] is a 10 yr old girl with Williams Syndrome. She used a buddy certificate this summer to attend the Sports and More camp in Concord. It was a 3 week camp for her. It’s a new camp and I was a bit unsure how it would go. But she had a great time! Everyone there was very kind and she even made a ‘boyfriend’. She really was quite taken with one of the other campers! It was a great experience and she wants to go back again next year. They attended a baseball game, had Zumba classes, went to a water park, a bouncy house place and got to hang out with each other having fun. She was accepted for all aspects of who she is and it was stress free summer time fun. Stacey worked hard at putting this experience together. And she had several volunteers who gave of their summer time to be buddies for the kids. The best part – for Mom – is that they actually came to my house to pick up my girl and brought her home! In 10 years, I’ve never had that luxury. It made those few weeks so much easier in many ways. Thanks for all your work to allow these certificates. They are a blessing to families! When you have a kid with special needs, there are so many extra expenses, every savings helps! Thank you for all your efforts! They are much appreciated! "
"We are grateful for the scholarships that were offered to our daughter Jordan.. She really enjoyed the two camps tumble and arts/w music. The volunteers really were a great group of people with there willingness to understand and help. My family was happy watching her make friends and be herself."
"Hi everyone, My son had such a fantastic experience at the Sports and More Camp in Concord this summer! He spoke often about the other kids he met and really looked forward to going in the morning. Stacy was so accommodating with transportation and the counselors were great. Thanks so much for making this summer camp possible for [my son]. It is truly appreciated."
"My son so enjoyed splashing around the pool at the aquatic center during the swim camp/lessons. He was able to get the one-on-one attention in the pool that he needed. Thank you, Buddy Club, for providing the funds for him to attend the camp."
"Words cannot express how thankful I am for [my son's] camp experience this past summer. I never would have had the money to send him so I am extremely grateful to have gotten a buddy scholarship for him. [my son] never likes anything , but he LOVED camp. He had fun. He loved the trips!! He got up each morning ready to go to camp. Sports and More was a blessing. The staff were amazing and I felt [my son] was understood and cared for there. Thank you so much for the opportunity! We hope to go again next summer!!!"
"Thank you for the Buddy Scholarship provided by Davidson College buddies to help [my son] attending the Little Gym Summer Camp. He had a ton of fun there. He loves those physical activites - balance beam, obstacle course, parachute, ..., etc. The volunteers at the camp were very helpful."
"[Our daughter]….as always enjoyed her summer experience during her summer adventures at camp. She participated in the Discovery Place Kids camp as well as the Art & Music camp.Although she did not benefit much from the Art & Music camp….I can overwhelmingly say that she had an outstanding time at the Discovery Place Kids camp.She had so much fun at this camp that we had to get a membership.Subsequent to the camp ending, [Our daughter] went EVERYDAY to Discovery Place Kids…..and I would have NEVER thought that she would have enjoyed such an experience.And in the process, she was interacting socially with her peers, which is something she never gets to do.
I can never thank the Buddy Club contributors/benefactors enough for the opportunities they have afforded my sweet little girl.Not only is the financial burden relieved from me (the cost of the camp covered), but the excitement and happiness that is presented to [our daughter] is PRICELESS!Thank you so much for supporting our families and making this experience possible. "
"Thanks to the "Buddy Scholarships" our daughter was able to participate in many of the programs offered this summer for children with special needs. Because of the hard work, generosity and partnerships of the young adults at Davidson College, Angels In Need and the Cornelius Parks and Recreation our children had choices. The financial responsibility for parents of children with special needs can be monumental. Costs for multiple doctors, specialists, hospital visits, therapy visits, time and travel to facilities sometimes hundreds of miles away, medication, special equipment, etc. can be thousands and thousands of dollars a year. This in many cases can leave very little or nothing for recreation. Thank you for offering a variety of programs throughout the year, that continue to grow, and thank you for keeping them low cost and in the case of "Buddy Scholarships", no cost, so everyone who wants to, has an opportunity to participate. [Our daughter] really enjoyed meeting each of her very special camp buddies who assisted her throughout her camp weeks. I think she appreciated the independence the camps made her feel, something she could participate in away from her normal caretakers, teachers and therapists, something of her own, kind of like Buddy Club. That has not always been easy to find for our children with special needs, but the work you all are doing is really changing that."
November, 2009... the first Buddy Benefit!
Could You Feel the Love?
"And can you feel the love tonight
It is where we are
It's enough for this wide-eyed wanderer
That we got this far
And can you feel the love tonight
How it's laid to rest
It's enough to make kings and vagabonds
Believe the very best"
As Billy Powers belted out these beautiful lyrics at the first Buddy Benefit,
the love felt in the hearts of our families certainly was "enough to make kings and vagabonds believe the very best"!
On a recent and beautiful autumn evening some remarkable Davidson College students did an amazing thing. Using talents of both voice and heart, they brought a community together and a celebration ensued… a celebration of the many and varied gifts that children with special needs bring to our families, our schools and our community. Families who attended watched in awe as young men and women treated their children with dignity and respect.
A mother eloquently expressed the joys and challenges of parenting these very special children. A young poet with autism poured out her heart to give the listeners a glimpse into her world. And energetic students, touched by the hearts of these children, sang of a love strong enough to make "kings and vagabonds believe the very best".
The beautiful words sung and recited pried open the eyes and pierced the hearts of all who attended; and set our wonderful Davidson and Lake Norman community on a path of greater awareness, acceptance and understanding.
"I was truly impressed and touched at the event last night. Usually I feel very uncomfortable when I go out with my daughter, because of the stares, and side comments...but even with her making all the noise that she made last night, it was wonderful to see that no one really minded. I got a little teary eyed when I noticed this...because it was a wonderful change from what I am used to. Thank you all for your pioneering approach to opening doors for our children. You will NEVER know.. or understand how much this truly means to me or others struggling the same way as my family is. Thank you ....Thank you....Thank you...."
"What an amazing thing you all did tonight. The singing was impeccable, the banquet delectable, the hospitality incredible and most of all the love was felt to our very core. How wonderful for our kids and families to be treated like royalty for a night... like we were loved, wanted and appreciated for whom we are. I teach my daughters daily that they have power… the power within them ‘to make the world a better place, to add to its misery, or to have no impact at all’. Tonight they witnessed the former and we are grateful for the example you all have set forth. Please know that through your hard work you have opened many doors for our children to participate in programs that will help them feel successful and included. But equally important, you have opened the eyes of many and have set our Davidson community on a path of awareness and understanding."
"Wow! What an amazing concert, and a delicious dinner! We were so impressed! It was a very special night for our family. We appreciate you all so much!!!"
"Wow! is the right word for all the wonderful things that happened last night! What a blessing it was and continues to be! Thank you for all of your efforts to bring this event about as well as the partnership with these students and our children!"
"It was an amazing event and I am so glad to have been a part of it. My husband was brought to tears. My daughter was so impressed as well, which means a lot to me."
"It was a beautiful event, I'm so glad we got to be there. So many people! The finale was amazing. That's when the waterworks finally let loose."
"What an amazing event last night. I never in a million years would have thought I could enjoy an experience like last night without the worries of stares and comments that would have made our family so uncomfortable that quite frankly we never would have attempted it. Billy you and the other students involved made us all feel so special and welcome, it brings tears to my eyes right now just thinking back to when we entered the banquet and everyone was waiting for us... applauding… for our kids, OUR kids, I didn’t know how to react, I was stunned. It was overwhelming, I never would have thought back in the early days of diagnosis that such an outpouring of support was in our future, because for so many years I spent my life isolated with my family because we were not accepted or welcome to "normal" functions."
"Seeing the world open up just a little bit more and more for our kids to find a place where they are loved and accepted gives hope to us all. I am so grateful…Thank you again a million times over, you are such special people with huge hearts and the world would be an unbelievably better place if there were more people like yourselves in it."
"This was absolutely fantastic!!"
"I loved the concert.... it was great to see so many college students who care about our students with special needs. It was heartwarming to see our students up dancing and having fun during the last number with the performers. I was also amazed with Melody's courage to be able to read such an insightful poem about living with autism to such a large crowd! Hearing from a mother of a child with special needs, really helped to understand what families go through each and every day. Overall, it was a wonderful, fun night! Awesome way to raise awareness. :)"
Davidson Elementary Teacher
"The night was so special. What touched me especially was the message from the speaker and the poet: that these children want to be seen, touched, considered and loved by all of us. I kept looking at the chorus’ with their various tempos and voices harmonizing as one and thinking it is just so symbolic of the word "buddy" and what this night was celebrating...to work together, to learn together, to celebrate together. Thank you for making such a night…for me and my three young sons." Davidson Elementary PTA Board Member