Best Buddies
Daniel Gobel, Sharee Torrez, Brett Gobel, Cecily Abbadessa, Lisa Abbadessa, Chuck Abbadessa Submitted photo

Best Buddies Arizona will host their inaugural Friendship Walk to celebrate the relationships that have been cultivated and bring awareness to the lives that are affected every day through the organization.

Best Buddies is an international nonprofit organization that brings together people with intellectual or developmental disabilities and their buddies. The organization also promotes leadership and offers many services for families with members with disabilities.

Around the country, the Friendship Walk started in 2009 but this will be the first year done in Arizona.

“We chose to participate because we saw the opportunity to raise awareness in our community about people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” Samantha Mason, Deputy Director of Development for Best Buddies Arizona, said in an email. “An event like this allows us and the buddies to have a platform for openly discussing what they want their movement to be and how an organization like Best Buddies Arizona positively effects their lives. The Best Buddies Friendship Walk is a way for us to include everyone to be a part of Best Buddies Arizona, what we strive to succeed by our mission.”

The public is invited to the event, which takes place on March 31 at Evelyn Hallman Park on the Southwest corner of McKellips Road and College Avenue in Tempe.

“We hope to create a positive, inclusive and welcoming atmosphere while encouraging and educating people to spread awareness about Best Buddies Arizona and some of the most wonderful people, the buddies,” Mason said. “While bringing all these people together we are able to make a movement, a movement to not only keep our 47 chapters active within the state of Arizona but to hopefully open more chapters to present the opportunity of friendship, to everyone.”

Mason said they expect to have about 1,000 people participate.

Those who would like to help can go online to start a team, raise money, become a sponsor or volunteer at or contact Samantha Mason at (602) 253-6463.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or

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