When I first started the Best Buddies Friends Choir as a freshman in the fall of 2013, I had absolutely no idea of the impact it would have on my life.

The Best Buddies Friends Choir is an entirely inclusive choir for adults with and without intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. Similarly to Best Buddies International, it aims to create friendships, but through the power of music. What started out as five members has quickly transformed into a group of more than twenty.

The Best Buddies Friends Choir has sung for thousands of people throughout Butler County, Ohio. A few of our favorite performances include a TEDx Talk, singing the National Anthem at a Dayton Dragons game, and performing with all of Miami University’s a cappella groups at our first annual A Cappella Awareness Concert last year.

We don’t sing complicated music with eight-part harmonies, rhythms, or polyphony, but I can say without a doubt that this is the most passionate choir I’ve ever known.

The Best Buddies Friends Choir has a special focus on advocating for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. Our biggest event of the year, the A Cappella Awareness Concert, coincides with national Spread the Word to End the Word Day, a day dedicated to ending the use of the r-word (retarded) and other offensive language.

The "R-word" is offensive, derogatory, and hurts individuals with and without disabilities. It is no longer recognized as a medical term, and is no longer used in many legal documents.

The annual event brings together the Miami community to help promote a message of inclusion and acceptance. I invite you to join the Best Buddies Friends Choir, guest star Marlana VanHoose, and five other Miami a cappella groups for the second A Cappella Awareness Concert in Wilks Theater this Friday, February 26th. Tickets are free and doors open at 6:30 PM, and the concert starts at 7 PM.