KUTZTOWN, Pa. – Nick Lafferty and Greg Power of the Kutztown University baseball team have a unique bond with individuals outside of the team and the KU campus, ones that not many around the community may know about.
The duo are members of a Best Buddies Organization, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The group is run through Grace Church in Kutztown.
Think about this:
Picture your best friend. Now imagine your life without that person. For people with developmental disabilities, the laughter and excitement shared with a best friend is only a dream a lot of times. But the best buddies organization is a lifeline to the joy and happiness of having a friend.
Power and Lafferty aren’t forced to interact with individuals that are different from them or their quote-unquote ‘regular friends,’ but they do. Their schedules of class, baseball, studying, work may seem like a lot to the normal student-athlete, but these two still want to give back to the community with the little free time that they may have.
Power transferred to Kutztown last fall and has been involved with the organization for two years. The veteran Lafferty is on his fourth year with Best Buddies. Power’s buddies last semester were named Todd and Andrew, with this semester being introduced to Kiersten as his new buddy. Lafferty’s buddy is named Chris.
“I started getting involved last year but this is my first year with the group around Kutztown,” said Power. “Both of my sisters (Kayla and Zoe) have special needs, so I know about what these kids go through and I want to be around them and help them have fun. I know that everyone needs a friend and someone to hang out with, but not everyone looks past the disabilities.”
“They inspire me more than I think I even can with them,” said Lafferty. “I try to be there and be a role model for them. They inspire me to keep doing this. I’ve been involved since my freshman year of high school. Just being around them is a lot of fun. They are great people, I can’t describe the feeling they give the people that are around them.”
The group of about 40-50 Kutztown University students has a meeting twice a month and the buddies also meet at least one time a month, but Power and Lafferty have hung out or done different activities with their buddies more than it is required. A lot of events that the group does together revolves around the season, but there are also times where the duo brings their buddies around the Kutztown baseball family, including Tanner Miller and Jeff Zebrowski .
“We had Christmas and Thanksgiving parties and went pumpkin picking in October,” Power said. “Both holiday parties were on campus so that was nice for them to get around the school. We’ve gone to Reading Royals hockey games and have just played board games at our house with some of the other guys from the team.”
Most recently, Chris came by the baseball house to watch the Super Bowl earlier this month with the guys.
Outside of just being there and doing things with their buddies, Power and Lafferty, along with all of the other members of best buddies altogether, hope to build lifelong friendships and help them grow as humans.
“We want to help them in any way that we can,” Lafferty said. “It’s awesome getting to hang out and have fun, but we want to see them become successful in whatever they choose to do in life and have the opportunities to do so.”
A friend is someone who is there that you can talk to, share memories with and look out for you. Power and Lafferty exude that definition to a T.