(Updated 11 a.m.) Wakefield High School students Anna Tiernan and Kate Williams won the Alex and Ani Friendship of the Year Award at the 28th Annual Best Buddies Leadership Conference in Indiana earlier this month.
Tiernan and Williams were nominated by the program’s Capitol Region director and campaigned heavily for the competition. The duo earned votes from across the country for their efforts and were announced as winners live at the conference, which took place July 21-24 at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind.
Best Buddies is a nonprofit organization that aims to create opportunities that for “one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
The pair’s nomination explained why they were well-suited for the award:
Anna’s and Kate’s friendship is truly genuine and exemplary of the Best Buddies mission; they are true equals and friends. They support each other’s interests – from Anna’s love of music to Kate’s involvement in school plays. They were highlighted on the local news as they prepared for their Prom together. They are always the first to start a party and the last to leave; from sporting events, karaoke outings, dance parties, and more, it is clear these two friends love to have fun and love each other!
Tiernan and Williams live a few houses away from each other, and have been able to develop a friendship with movie nights while also helping build the Best Buddies organization in their community. The pair were featured on Fox 5 last month when they were promoting the annual Best Buddies Prom.
Williams, who is the president of the Wakefield chapter, said she can see the impact of the Best Buddies program in the school.
“I think there are a lot more kids that recognize the students in the special needs classes,” said Williams.
Tiernan, who graduated from Wakefield this past June, says she enjoys her unique friendship with Williams. She said she is also looking forward to the organization’s Friendship Walk on October 21, hosted by local radio host Tommy McFly.
“I just want to be in a video with him,” said Tiernan, who said the walk is one of her favorite Best Buddies events.
Best Buddies partnered with jewelry company Alex and Ani, the sponsor of the awards, in 2015. Last year, Best Buddies was one of two charities that benefited from the sales of the Liberty Copper Carry Light line, and currently benefits a portion of the proceeds from the Arrows of Friendship Charm Bangle.