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Bachelor of Social Work student wins Big Ten Network scholarship contest


March 8, 2012

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During half-time of the Indiana University-Purdue University basketball game on March 4, Brittany Glaze, a junior in the Bachelor of Social Work Program at IUB, walked out onto the court with Kimmi, a good friend she met through Best Buddies, for a special presentation.

It was the moment Brittany had been looking forward to since she was named Indiana University’s winner of the Big Ten Network LiveBig scholarship contest on Feb. 22.

“We had an amazing time!!” Brittany said of the presentation of an oversized $1,000 scholarship check. “Last night was something Kimmi and I will never forget. I am honored that I got to share that moment with Kimmi. In all of my two year friendship with Kimmi, I have never seen her happier or more proud of herself. She looked great out there waving to the huge crowd!!”

Kimmi has been Brittany’s Best Buddy since her sophomore year at IU and they usually get together about three times a month. In preparation for the IU-Purdue event, Kimmi was so excited she went out and got a new IU t-shirt and a haircut.

It all started weeks earlier when Brittany submitted an essay in the Big Ten Network scholarship contest that offered scholarships to a student from each of the Big 10 schools. The students were asked to submit an essay on service experience. Brittany, who is from Brownsburg, Ind., wrote about her involvement with Best Buddies and how it had changed her life. Brittany was one of five finalists chosen from IU. People then were asked to vote online for the person they thought she receive the $1,000 scholarship.

In her essay, Brittany explained she became involved with Best Buddies, an international, nonprofit organization that provides opportunities for one-to-one friendship for people with physical and intellectual disabilities, five years ago. While in high school she met her first Best Buddy, Tim, who has cerebral palsy. Because of his disability, Tim cannot speak and uses a wheelchair. “However, his disability has only helped to prove how strong of a person he is,” Brittany wrote. “He has taught me what a genuine, selfless friendship should look like. I share a special bond with him that I do not share with any of my other friends.”

I her essay, Brittany noted that she has cerebral palsy. Her disability is mild, mainly affecting her right leg. Brittany explained she has encountered some challenges, such as being unable to ride or bike or run as fast as others. “But I would not change it for anything. While most people might consider this a setback, I consider it a blessing. Because of my personal experience as well as my involvement in Best Buddies, a fire was ignited in me to help others with similar experiences.”

Brittany related how she became president of her high school chapter of Best Buddies, which won Outstanding Chapter of the Year out of all Indiana high schools for the 2008-2009 school year. She continued with Best Buddies at IU and is the president of the Indiana University Best Buddies Chapter.

The chapter holds monthly chapter events for buddy pairs to participate in, such as cookouts, bowling outings, Halloween costume parties, and a Best Buddies Prom. “We have seen the chapter double in size during the past three years. The friendships that have been formed are genuine, and the members have exceptional dedication to the mission of Best Buddies. In addition, we are working extremely hard to raise awareness throughout the entire Bloomington campus and community.”

In her essay, Brittany explained the goal of Best Buddies is to encourage acceptance for a marginalized group of individuals while raising awareness of all the strengths that those with disabilities have to offer the world. “I know first-hand that a disability does not define a person, it is just a part of who they are. People with disabilities have countless strengths and unique talents, and I will continue to work to increase understanding of this population among my peers.”