A nonprofit’s first in-person event since starting its Oklahoma chapter during the pandemic happened Saturday in Tulsa. Hundreds gathered at Hunter Park for the Best Buddies Friendship Walk.
Organizers of the walk said disability doesn’t mean inability, which is something the organization continues to emphasize.
The Bond siblings share a unique connection. Maggie Bond is a quadruplet, so growing up was an adventure full of adversity. Her brothers, Tyler and CJ, have autism.
“They’ve shattered all the stereotypes,” Maggie Bond said. “They’ve shattered all the glass ceilings. They’re why I do what I do. They’re my purpose.”
Maggie Bond grew up seeing the challenges her brothers faced, which is what spurred her involvement as an advisory board member with the Best Buddies Oklahoma chapter.
“He’s been through a lot in his life with isolation, so to have an organization like this that helps foster friendships and inclusion is, like, incredible,” Maggie Bond said.
Best Buddies said it is a social network that pairs people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with community members. The organization also helps individuals earn jobs and learning to live independently.
“Realistically, we only have about 20%, if that, of adults who live with different intellectual and developmental disabilities being employed,” Maggie Bond said.
Tyler Bond said Saturday’s walk was a huge success.
“I just love the inclusion, the fun, and the music. It’s so great,” Tyler Bond said.
For Tyler, the best part of the day is sharing the experience with his sister Maggie.
“It means so much,” Tyler Bond said. “Without her, I don’t even think I’d be alive right now.”
Maggie believes our differences can be our superpower.
“We can learn from these differences, and I think, in a way, innovate a better way of doing things,” Maggie Bond said. “What if it’s the better way?”
The Best Buddies Oklahoma chapter raised more than $23,000 dollars because of Saturday’s event.