Around 250 people attended the Best Buddies Friendship Walk at John McConnell Stadium at Conway High School.
Caring Cats' Cheryl Daniels said this is the second year they’ve had the event at the high school to raise awareness regarding the “fantastic friendships” that are being made between students with and without disabilities. She said this year's event exceeded her expectations.
“Best Buddies is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to establishing a volunteer movement that creates opportunities for these friendships,” Daniels said.
In addition, the event raised funds to send the organization’s president, Kylee French, to a conference this summer where she will meet and learn from other high school students.
“There are not enough words in the English dictionary to describe how wonderful this girl is,” Daniels said of the leader. “Kylee is the kindest, hardest working, game and life changer on [Earth].”
Several big names also attended the event to raise awareness including Barrett Baber, from "The Voice," who performed and 2012 CHS graduate Hart Denton who plays Chick on the CW show "Riverdale."
Daniels said her favorite part was seeing Denton — who spent hours in her special education classroom hanging out and being a friend — reunite with his buddy Jerome Riley, who now attends Profiles at Independent Living Services.
“Jerome graduated the same year, and to watch them run to each other with the most innocent joy years later was something very special,” she said. “Jerome and the other kids in my class could care less if Hart is on TV or a big star — to them he is just Hart.”
Daniels said other crowd favorites were Tyler Sellers and Aidan Ratliff, who both performed throughout the event.
“They even allowed several participants to hop on the mic and sing,” she said. “To have all those people to help our kids was amazing.”
Daniels said without the help of people like French and Miller Myers, who helped organize the event, and Alye Bell, the sponsor who is taking over when Daniels retires at the end of the year, and Yvonne Bradden and Gabby Gain, two ladies that work in the classroom with her, none of this “cool stuff” would happen.