Get ready to have a good time for a good cause at this year’s Best Buddies Friendship Walk on Saturday, May 14 at Raymond James Stadium.

If you want to support a great cause while having a great time, then you’ll want to attend the Best Buddies Friendship Walk. Happening on Saturday, May 14 in Lot 6D at Raymond James Stadium, the fundraising event supports the inclusion of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

All the money raised will go towards Best Buddies’ programmatic initiatives in Tampa Bay, which include expansion efforts within its school system, Best Buddies Citizens and Jobs programs for adults and much more.

“Best Buddies is actually the world’s largest organization that’s dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of over 200 million individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Morgan Heartsfield, deputy director of development at Best Buddies International. “It’s really just to promote inclusion for our friends with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

The goal is to fundraise $148,800 by the end of the walk. Over $84,600 had been raised at the time of writing this story.

About why the walk is at Raymond James Stadium, Heartsfield said, “The stadium has been an incredible partner for the past couple of years for us. … We’re renting out a parking lot, Lot 6D, but they do give us a discount. They’re just absolutely incredible and so accommodating to us.”

To raise funds, there are sponsorship opportunities, community members can register to create teams and fundraise on their own and people can donate on the Friendship Walk’s website. Also, there are several fundraising incentives for those who achieve certain goals, ranging from $50 to $2,500. For instance, anyone who attends the walk and raises $50 will receive a Best Buddies Friendship Walk T-shirt.

The event is free to attend, and there will be free food and drinks, a DJ, blow-up activities, contests and more. Plus, awards will be given away for top fundraisers.

“We like to have activities for absolutely everybody to be able to participate, join and have fun,” said Heartsfield.

Also, Joshua Felder, a global ambassador for Best Buddies and the first person with autism to dance at the Super Bowl, will be performing at the walk. He will also be leading a stretch session of sorts with a former Tampa Bay Buccaneers cheerleader before the walk begins.

Check-in time for the walk is at 8:30 a.m-12 Noon. Raymond James Stadium is located at 4201 N. Dale Mabry Hwy. in Tampa.

For more information, visit Be sure to also check out Best Buddies’ Instagram page @bestbuddiestampa.

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Taylor Wells
Taylor Wells is a relatively recently hired news reporter for the Osprey Observer, having been with the paper only since October 8, 2018. Aside from writing articles, he helps edit and upload them to the Osprey Observer site, and is always available to help other staff members in his spare time. He graduated from Saint Leo University with a bachelor’s degree in professional writing and lives in Valrico.