Lower Merion High School junior Michelle Kelly has been nominated as a Best Buddies of Philadelphia "Champion of the Year" as part of an annual fundraising and awareness campaign bringing together prominent and dynamic individuals who believe in creating opportunities for friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
On her fundraising page, Kelly, a proponent of inclusion for all, shares her story explaining why she believes so strongly in the Best Buddies mission dating back to her elementary school years. Even at such a young age, Kelly was aware of the importance of making all students – especially those with intellectual and developmental disabilities - feel more a part of the school community. She goes on to write:
For so much of my life, Best Buddies has been integral to my growth as a person. One of the most important things I have learned is how to be a leader. As a sophomore, I was granted an officer role for my dedication, compassion, and enthusiasm for Best Buddies. Recently, I was elected Chapter President at Lower Merion High School. Additionally, I was nominated to interview for a statewide Student Advisory Board, and was accepted! I am helping plan and organize Best Buddies events at both the local and state level, and can't wait for all the amazing things we will do this year!
When I was nominated for Champion of the Year, I was ecstatic! To help raise money for such an amazing organization is an honor, and this campaign is going to be so much fun! Thankfully, I have one of my best friends alongside me as my mission partner. Ethan Silber is part of my Lower Merion High School Best Buddies chapter and one of my favorite people on planet earth. He helps me find the joy in every situation and keeps me curious about the world. We are also part of an organization called Philly Friendship Circle, which is similar to Best Buddies in its mission of promoting inclusion. I'm so grateful to have Ethan in my life, and by my side on this journey.