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Update from the Field

Each e-Beat we share news from our various Best Buddies State Offices. This is a great way for our participants to learn about what is happening with Best Buddies throughout the United States.

Best Buddies Nevada partners with MGM

For the first time, the MGM Resorts Foundation has chosen to support Best Buddies Nevada with a grant of $23,285, allocated toward bolstering Best Buddies' middle school and high school programs.

The MGM Resorts Foundation is unique in that its funding is derived from employee contributions, and employees select their charities of choice. "We are incredibly grateful that MGM Resorts Foundation has voiced their confidence in our programs and mission," Best Buddies Nevada State Director Jason Smith said. "Also, for this selection to be employee-driven means we are making a tremendous difference in the lives of those in the community."

In fact more than 25 MGM employees have children who are actively involved in Best Buddies programs at their respective schools. They comprise a critical part of each chapter's leadership. Megan Jensen, who attends Bishop Gorman, is one daughter of an employee, whose life has been profoundly impacted by her involvement with Best Buddies. Like other teens Megan and her Buddy eat lunch together, go the movies and talk on the phone. "Megan has become a much more compassionate person who appreciates that every person is valuable," said her father Scott Jensen, MGM Grand's executive director of gaming. Jensen believes that the organization delivers a much-needed message to teens. "Being good is commendable, but only when it is combined with doing good, is it useful," Jensen said.

Shark Reef Director Adrienne Rowland also lauded Best Buddies for its insistence on eliminating social barriers. Often, she noted, it is difficult for students with a disability to make friends with the general education students, since they are in different classrooms. "Where most adaptive programs are focused only on the [person with a disability] in a removed setting, this program is about inclusion," Rowland said. Now, her daughter feels she is a part of the school beyond her classroom. "When we are out in the community, other students will stop and say hello to Caitlin and give her a hug," Rowland said. "While it sounds small this makes her entire day."

With the generous support of MGM and its employees, Smith hopes to continue brightening the days of people like Caitlin. "I am ecstatic about how many lives we can change through our partnership with MGM."

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