Best Buddies is the world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Its programs empower the special abilities of people with IDD by helping them form meaningful friendships with their peers; secure successful jobs; live independently; improve public speaking, self-advocacy and communication skills; and feel valued by society.
Joshua Felder of Tampa is a local Best Buddies ambassador. He was recently one of the Tampa dancers that joined performing artist The Weeknd during his performance in the Super Bowl Halftime Show.
“I was born with high-functioning autism and a photographic memory,” Felder said. “I’ve never taken a dancing lesson in my life, so when it comes to dancing, I learned to dance by watching videos on YouTube or TV, then I can memorize the steps. My three favorite performers are Michael Jackson, Chris Brown and Usher.”
Since Felder is an ambassador for Best Buddies, he had the opportunity to attend an event at the Centre Club in Tampa in December last year. At the event, he met the production team for the Super Bowl Halftime Show.
“They asked me if I could dance and I told them I could,” Felder said. “I was asked to send in a video of me dancing, so I sent them one of my TikTok videos. I later found out I made it and they sent me an email to sign up to be one of the dancers.”
Felder was thrilled to have this experience and loved dancing at the Super Bowl. “It was amazing,” Felder said. “I never in all my life thought I would be able to dance for The Weeknd.”
Felder has since taken his ambassador and dancing skills and put them to good work. He recently taught a dance class at Dancing for Donations in Valrico.
“I love that I was asked to come and show the students how to dance at Dancing for Donations,” Felder said. “I also love being a part of Best Buddies, which has become a second family to me. I have learned so much from Best Buddies and I love being a member of the organization.”
To learn more about Best Buddies, visit www.bestbuddies.org. To learn more about Dancing for Donations, visit www.dancing4donations.org. Dancing for Donations is located at 1076 E. Brandon Blvd., Ste. 101 in Valrico.