Best Buddies Friends Choir Spreads Awareness In Miami Community Through Song

Best Buddies Friends Choir Spreads Awareness In Miami Community Through Song

Check out our concert this Friday to see all we have been working on
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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.

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Why Your Grandma Is Your Biggest Blessing In Life

Because nobody loves you more than she does.
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There are many people in your life you are thankful for: Mom, Dad, siblings, cousins, best friends, teachers, neighbors, you name it. You are grateful to have people who constantly support you, who pick you up when you're down and love you unconditionally. But the one person who stands out among the rest of them is your grandma.

SEE ALSO: 10 Reasons Why Your Grandma Is The Best Person In Your Life

Ever since you were little, you and your grandma have always had a special connection. Going over to Grandma's house for the night was something you looked forward to. She knew how to entertain you at your best and worst moments. No matter what you did together, you loved it. Being with your grandma wasn't like being at home or with your parents – it was better. You went to the park, made cookies, went out to dinner, got a “sweet treat" at the mall, played Go Fish, took a bubble bath for as long as you wanted and got way too much dessert than you should have. You did things you weren't supposed to do, but Grandma didn't stop you. Because at Grandma's house there were no rules, and you didn't have to worry about a single thing. Being with Grandma was the true epitome of childhood. She let you be you. She always made sure you had the best time when you were with her, and she loved watching you grow up with a smile on your face.

The older you got, your weekend excursions with your grandma weren't as frequent, and you didn't get to see her as much. You became more and more busy with school, homework, clubs, sports, and friends. You made the most out of your time to see her, and you wished you could be with her more. Although you were in the prime of your life, she mattered even more to you the older you both became. You were with your friends 24/7, but you missed being with your grandma. When the time rolled around, and you got the chance to spend time with her, she told you never to apologize. She wanted you to go out, have fun and enjoy life the way it makes you happy.

Reflecting back on these moments with your grandma, you realize how truly special she is to you. There is no one who could ever compare to her nor will there ever be. All your life, there is no one who will be as sweet, as caring, as sincere or as genuine as her. Even though you're all grown up now, there are things about your grandma that never changed from when you were a kid. She still takes you out for your favorite meal because she knows how important eating out means to you. She writes you letters and sends you a $5 bill every now and then because she knows you're a hard-working college student with no money. She still helps you with all of your Christmas shopping because she knows it's your tradition. She still asks what's new with your young life because hearing about it makes her day and she still loves you to no end. Your grandma is your biggest blessing (whether you knew it or not), and she always will be no matter what.

Cover Image Credit: Erin Kron

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Picking Up The Pieces After Half A Year Of Grief

I learned how the strongest people still standing are the ones that are limping, barely holding themselves together, and those are the people that walk with peace and wisdom. Yes, I identify as one of these people, and by the grace of God, I know what it means now to trust and feel joy. For all this, I am the luckiest person in the world, and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

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Half a year ago, my entire life changed in the split of a second. Almost every part of myself as I knew it went away and fell apart. I got depressed, really depressed, and at times woke up at night close to 4 a.m., shaking with terrible panic attacks. I lost friends. Almost all of my relationships changed. I questioned everything: who I was, my belief in a benevolent God, and whether I could still be a good person, a good friend, and a positive contribution to society, and a beloved child of God after I'd hurt people so badly.

No, I don't want to talk about what happened, and most likely never will except to the people I love. Instead, I want to talk about picking up the pieces and getting my life back together. No, there was no getting over it. No, it wasn't easy. No, the task isn't even complete. It might never be.

But now, in reflection, I learned more outside the classroom through having my experience than anything I learned in a classroom.

I learned that everything is complicated, absolutely everything. I learned that you have to withhold judgment and trust your gut about people until you have all the details. I learned that life goes on. It always does, but that isn't always a good thing, and at times, for me, it really wasn't. But at that moment, I also learned that God is good, even if life isn't. I learned that life is inherently confusing. Everyone is telling the truth, even if those truths are in direct conflict with each other.

I learned that life doesn't get easier. You get stronger, and life just gets different. I learned, in the words of William Faulkner, that the past doesn't go away. It's not even past. I learned that there isn't always a resolution to problems, and even though it hurts, you have to be okay with that.

I learned, after all, that life will never be the same. It never can, but that's not always a bad thing. There's a whole world out there ready to be explored. I learned, in an extreme way, that it doesn't matter what other people think about you. It matters what you think and what God thinks. I learned that sometimes you just have to stop and let yourself feel the pain and grief instead of pushing it away, because that's the only way you can go through life without people seeing that you're only a shred of a person lost and not all there. Sometimes, you just have to stop and know this: you're doing the absolute best you can. You're acting according to God's plan, and there's a bigger picture for all this.

I learned that picking up the pieces means accepting that life is sometimes good, sometimes bad, and at its worse, really ugly. I learned that picking up the pieces means that the story is never over. Yes, a traumatic moment or death re-organizes and re-charts your life entirely. Your plans are destroyed, but the beauty of life is that it won't go according to your plans. I learned that grief comes at life's most unexpected moments, and that even if that's embarassing, it happens that way for a reason.

I learned that life cannot go on if you sit in your room all day and cower in shame, unable to let yourself confront your demons. I learned that picking up the pieces means treating people with respect, like you would want to be treated, and saying hi and smiling even if they won't return that grace. I learned that life is about never giving up on people, even if your relationship with them is not the same and destroyed. I learned that life is an amalgamation of "so whats," a combination of accepting the notion that "so what this happened. What now?" to live in the moment.

But above all, I learned that picking up the pieces means owning your story. Every single part of it couldn't have happened to anyone else. But yours can help other people as long as you let it. I learned that the only reason you feel this much pain and love is that you loved something and loved people so much in the first place, and it's important not to lose sight of that love.

I learned, perhaps most importantly, that it's more important to be kind than right. Even if you're right, it's important to not get stuck in the pain. It's important to not defend yourself and stand down and surrender to the people that want you to suffer and rip you to shreds. What can they do to someone who already died over and over again, who can withstand anything through the grace of God?

Six months later, I'm eternally grateful. I'm more alive than I've ever been. I know what it is now to not need to control my life. I learned what it means to surrender. I learned how the strongest people still standing are the ones that are limping, barely holding themselves together, and those are the people that walk with peace and wisdom. Yes, I identify as one of these people, and by the grace of God, I know what it means now to trust and feel joy. For all this, I am the luckiest person in the world, and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

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