Mike McCormick is the State Director of Best Buddies Hawai'i, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
Founded in 1989 by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, Best Buddies is a vibrant, international organization that has grown from one original chapter to almost 1,500 middle school, high school, and college chapters worldwide. Best Buddies programs engage participants in each of the 50 United States, and in 50 countries around the world.
Best Buddies’ seven formal programs – Best Buddies Middle Schools, High Schools, Colleges, Citizens, e-Buddies, Jobs and Ambassadors – positively impact nearly 700,000 individuals with and without disabilities worldwide. Best Buddies volunteers annually contribute, at no cost to their communities, support services that equate to more than US$164 million.
As a result of their involvement with Best Buddies, people with IDD secure rewarding jobs, live on their own, become inspirational leaders, and make lifelong friendships. Although Best Buddies has advanced tremendously in its short existence, many areas of the country and many regions of the world still lack programs to help people with IDD become part of mainstream society. With that in mind, Best Buddies is systematically implementing its 2020 Initiative, which will witness the organization’s continued significant growth, both domestically and overseas.
Charity Swim for Best Buddies
The Wailea Molokini Challenge in 2011 was a [[charity swim and charity paddle event that benefitted Best Buddies Hawaii and Ka Lima O Maui. The 12-mile event raised money and awareness for the diverse population of people with disabilities on Maui.
Karen Gaffney swam from Wailea Beach on Maui, circumnavigated Molokini crater island 6 miles away, and then paddled back. Gaffney was accompanied by Hawaiian channel swimmer and Maui resident Mike Spalding. The benefit paddle/swim circumnavigation of Molokini included stand up, OC-1, OC-2 and traditional outrigger canoe in teen, adult and senior age divisions.