A goal to help foster a more inclusive future for Tennessee's disabled led Jaycie Bateman '24 to form a Best Buddies Chapter at Webb during the 2022-2023 school year that continues to benefit students at a local elementary school this year.
"Once a month, the 15 chapter members travel to Cascade Elementary School and spend time with students in the special education classroom," said Bateman. "We have the most fun celebrating holidays, playing outside and having birthday parties," said Bateman. “For Halloween, we painted pumpkins, and for Thanksgiving, we made turkey hats. We had Christmas presents, and we will also host an Easter egg hunt, and an end-of-the-year water day.”
This year held a special honor for Bateman as she was one of 10 across Tennessee chosen to be a champion of the year and carry out a fundraising campaign for the organization. The annual Best Buddies Campaign culminated with a Gala Oct. 28. While she was not named the overall state champion, she came in third and was the only high school student in the field of finalists. Bateman raised $48,865 from donations, sponsorships and silent and live auctions proceeds for the Best Buddies campaign total. Webb participated in Bateman's campaign by purchasing an ad in the 2023 Best Buddies Gala Program.
"My motivation for this fundraising campaign was to create a more inclusive future for disabled children across Tennessee, especially the kids I have come to love so much at Cascade Elementary," Bateman explained. "My hope is that when they are grown, they are welcomed into a world that accepts them for who they are, sees their value and willfully chooses to employ them."
"Best Buddies is the world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical, and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Our programs empower the special abilities of people with IDD by helping them form meaningful friendships with their peers, secure successful jobs, live independently, improve public speaking, self-advocacy, and communication skills, and feel valued by society."