ZIONSVILLE — Creating a kinder world.
That’s the hope of non profit Best Buddies, which works to improve the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in Indiana and across the globe.
Best Buddies has helped 835 people right here in the Hoosier state create meaningful connections.
The chapter at Zionsville Community High School is actually one of the largest, with close to 300 members.
For members Gracie Hamilton and Adison Coleman, it seemed like their friendship was inherited.
“We say we’re cousins but we’re god sisters," Coleman said.
Gracie and Adison grew up playing dress up, going on shopping sprees and even getting pampered like princesses.
It just so happens their moms have been best friends since childhood, as well.
Their relationship is also special because Gracie has Down Syndrome.
“She’s very perseverant and very strong and I really admire that about her," Coleman said.
They’re each others confidants, shoulder to cry on and biggest cheerleaders.
“We pick each other up, when the other is down," Coleman said.
“Yep. That’s true," Hamilton said.
When the two got to high school, they joined Best Buddies — a club seemingly designed for them.
“It was the best part of freshman year," Hamilton said.
Best Buddies pairs kids with and without IDD in one-to-one friendships.
The goal is to eliminate the social exclusion those with special needs often face.
And as much as the club is designed to support the ‘buddies,’ Coleman says it’s a two way street.
“She keeps me in check. I can always rely on her to tell me if a dress doesn’t look good. And I’ll always be that friend for her too. Those are your true friends," Coleman said.
The girls are seniors this year. They both have big plans after graduation.
After graduation, Hamilton wants to go to school for acting, and one day be in the spotlight.
Coleman wants to study physical therapy, and eventually work with children with disabilities, inspired by her best friend Gracie.
“Just because someone may speak a little bit differently or look a little different. That doesn’t mean that their value is less," Coleman said.
The girls say regardless of where they end up, they hope to continue their work with Best Buddies in college and beyond.