Best Buddies in Illinois - Your Impact!

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Your Impact, Our Programs! Best Buddies in Illinois


Amazing friends — LIKE YOU — helped us raise over $500,000 in 2019 to support our local programs!

Your Impact! The funds raised through the Gala and other events in Illinois in 2019 will bring Best Buddies to 49 new schools throughout the state in 2020!

In 78 Cities throughout Illinois

Impacting over 80,000 people

Over 8,000 School Friendship Participants

151 School Chapters

Over 300 Citizens Participants

16 Placed Jobs Participants

Best Buddies International is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendship, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Champion of the Year unites and recognizes the most active leaders in the name of inclusion in Illinois. By sharing their energy, talents, networks, and passion for inclusion through a philanthropic competition, our Champions are laying the foundation for transformative change in our community.

Launching the Campaign First, we held our Candidate Training to equip the nominees with all the tools needed to lead a successful campaign. Then, more than 300 family members, friends, and supporters came together to celebrate the official start of the campaign with a Kickoff Party! We heard from all of our Champions about why they’d chosen to join Best Buddies in working for inclusion.

Our Candidates

Collectively, our 2019 Champion of the Year candidates in Chicago raised $141,000 through their personal fundraising campaigns!


Champion of the Year Gala Oh, what a night!

Chicago’s 2019

CHAMPION of the Year “I would like to share the message of the Best Buddies Program. I would like to help others like myself to develop important skills to be successful at their jobs and in life. I want others to experience this program and learn what I have learned! This program is so special to people with special needs.”

Vincent Trace Nardi Trace and his buddy, Emma

Trace Nardi raised over $24,000!

Best Buddies Ambassador, Louthor Tobano, co-emcee with Mark Rivera from ABC7 Chicago

Best Buddies Ambassadors share their inspiring life stories, promote Best Buddies programs and advocate for inclusion in their communities.

Thank You!

Our Sponsors

Thank You!

Our Sponsors

Jobs Participant, Dunham Leiner, takes the stage with Auctioneer, Chris Hensley.

Thank You to our Top Donors! Live Auction Donors:

Top Live Auction Donors:

Top Bid From The Heart Donors:

John Ketchum

Nicole VandeBoom

Joe Labetti

Ann & Ken Huber

Katie Hench

Joseph Nunziante

Morgan Olszewski

Bob Plutko

Kurt Rogers

CJ Scharf

Anne Marie Thomas

Izzy Ketchum

Kelly Ketchum

Rafay Qamar

John Yeager

Moelter Foundation

Melissa Buich

Antonio Santucci

We still need your help... Many people with IDD have been profoundly affected by

the COVID-19 pandemic. Cut off from school or community relationships, they can be particularly vulnerable to the emotional and logistical difficulties of social isolation. People with IDD are overlooked during times of public emergency, as they are often not in a position to

advocate for themselves.

Save the Date! Ignite Inclusion Virtual Gala � Friday, October 23, 2020 Join us for our Ignite Inclusion Virtual Gala. This FREE event will be hosted by ABC-7’s Mark Rivera and will have special appearances from many of our Best Buddies participant in the Chicago area, including our Champion of the Year candidates.

We also have amazing sponsorship packages, and special VIP packages, including gourmet food and beverage delivery right to your home or office. Contact us for more information.

While we cannot celebrate in person this year, we are excited to announce that we have secured The Old Post Office and its beautiful space for 2021!

Contact for more information

Get Involved! NOMINATE >>



Let us know who you think would be a great Champion for our mission of friendship and inclusion. You could nominate someone from your company or even yourself—after all, we are honoring the best of the best in Chicago through this campaign!

Become a corporate partner with Best Buddies and receive a multitude of marketing opportunities with our large network of supporters (and beyond)!

Support a Champion in his/her fundraising efforts, make a donation to support the cause, contribute an item to our silent auction, or spread the word and let others know to join us for the Ignite Inclusion Virtual Gala!

Best Buddies in Illinois Chicago Office 500 N. Dearborn, Suite 730, Chicago IL 60654 Central Illinois Office 7800 N. Sommer Street, Ste. 412 | Peoria, IL 61615 | P 309.966.3635


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