Former Mendota woman named Champion of the Year in Best Buddies fundraiser

Stephanie Chaon, right, of Germantown Hills, formerly of Mendota, was named the Best Buddies Central Illinois Champion of the Year after raising $10,000 for the program. Angela Allison, left, was her campaign manager. (Photo contributed)

PEORIA HEIGHTS – A former Mendota resident was honored for her fundraising efforts with the Best Buddies program in Central Illinois.

Stephanie Chaon of Germantown Hills was named the Central Illinois Champion of the Year at a gala event in Peoria Heights on Nov. 1. She raised $10,000 for Best Buddies during the fundraising period, which was an eight-week campaign beginning Sept. 5.

Chaon was introduced to the Best Buddies program in 2018 when she was invited to the gala last year as a guest of Angela Allison, whose son has autism and is a student at East Peoria High School. Allison’s son Gavin has been involved with Best Buddies for two years and having seen the impact the program had on him, Chaon wanted to get Best Buddies into her children’s schools.

When Chaon decided to participate in the fundraising effort this year, she asked Allison to be her campaign manager. “I decided to be a Champion because I want every child to feel included and to remember that different is good,” stated Chaon. “The world would be pretty boring if we all looked the same and had the same qualities.”

Best Buddies International is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

The IDD community that Best Buddies serves includes, but is not limited to, people with Down syndrome, autism, Fragile X, Williams syndrome, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury and other undiagnosed disabilities.

Best Buddies is the world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Its programs empower the special abilities of people with IDD by helping them form meaningful friendships with their peers, secure successful jobs, live independently, improve public speaking, self-advocacy and communication skills, and feel valued by society.

To learn more about the program, log on to bestbuddies.org.

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