Fort Frances native best of ‘Best Buddies’

Friendship is one of the most important, and often taken for granted, elements of life. For people with intellectual difficulties, friendships can mean the difference between social inclusion and living in isolation.
For this reason, every year Best Buddies Canada, an organization dedicated to promoting friendships between people with intellectual disabilities and students, honours two friends who exemplify the spirit of “Best Buddies” and the spirit of friendship.
The winners of this year’s annual University/College Spirit of Friendship Award are Craig Lamperd of London, Ont. and Jade Dittaro of Fort Frances.
The pair have been buddies with the Best Buddies program for more than three years. And theirs is a genuine friendship.
Their nominators described Dittaro as “a friend who accepts Craig for who he is and does not hold any expectations for him to behave in a certain way” and that “Craig looks forward to being with Jade; there is an immediate change in him when they are together.”
Dittaro describes the importance of Lamperd’s friendship to her:
“He’s shown me how to be a better person, how to enjoy every moment of what happens rather than worrying about the future. He lives in the now and is a true friend, two very important things I’ve taken with me.”
In the summer, they write and call each other to keep in touch. Dittaro involves Lamperd in activities with her friends, such as hockey games.
She also is involved with Lamperd’s family, and attended Community Living London’s fashion show with his parents to watch him on stage.
Lamperd’s lifelong dream was to see “The Price is Right.” This year, he finally raised enough money to go and when asked who he wanted to take along with him, he said Jade.
Last September, they flew to California to see “The Price is Right.” Dittaro paid her own way, knowing how much the trip meant to him.
They have been fantastic ambassadors for “Best Buddies” and have spread its message of inclusion throughout the London community.
The Spirit of Friendship award is given to one “Buddy” pair per year who have developed a relationship that exemplifies the Spirit of Friendship upon which the organization was founded
Dittaro and Lamperd attended the 12th-annuall Best Buddies Canada gala on Sept. 13 in Toronto to accept their award.
This year’s gala attracted about 450 of Toronto’s business and film community leaders, and honoured legendary actor Lou Gossett Jr.
The gala celebrated the importance of “Best Buddies” friendships and the vital role that they play in the development of an inclusive society.
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Community Living Fort Frances and District is working on getting “Best Buddies” chapters established at FFHS and RRHS. This is the second year for these chapters and they currently are looking for more volunteers to participate.
If you are interested or require more information, contact Faith Moen, communications/public relations co-ordinator, at 274-5556 ext. 19.