Matti Jeffreys and Nathaniel Vossen

My initial reaction to winning this award was in all honesty: shock and confusion. My initial understanding of what winning an award means is hard work or some tireless arduous performance. All Matti and myself ever do is have incredible amounts of fun. After I became exposed to the tenets and criteria of what it means to receive this award, I understood that having fun was one of the requirements. So in hindsight, that’s what makes this award so special, you have to have fun in order to receive it.

A very interesting sequence of events brought Matti and myself together under Best Buddies. My first encounter with this phenomenal individual began at a music festival I was DJing. As I was performing my set I noticed that there was an even better show than myself out on the dance floor. It was there that I saw a young man who had cleared out a 5 meter radius around himself, and he had dance moves that would put contestants on So You Think You Can Dance to shame. The crowd was captivated by him, and this flamboyant young man had completely stolen the show from me; but, not one to be greedy, he would periodically announce to his audience how much he loved the music and to clap your hands for the “crazy DJ guy up there.” Afterwards, I managed to make my way out into the crowd and thank him for being so much fun. He was positive and delighted to talk to me. This made me feel good and I hoped that I would see him more often.

A few months later, I saw the Best Buddies booth at my college and asked the helpful Danielle Dufour a little bit about the program. She invited me to a Best Buddies event to see what it was about; Matti was there, and remembered me from the concert, and I, of course, remembered him as well. He asked if I would be his buddy and I told him that I would certainly like to. We exchanged some friendly words and then the room was quieted for the subsequent oncoming performance of a scheduled band. Matti’s eyes lit up, and he moved towards the direction of the stage. The band performed a few songs.

I don’t believe Matti was a scheduled performer but I think he saw that the band needed a professional hand clapper, so he slipped his way onstage and set up a teetering chair, climbed up on top of it, and began clapping to the beat, engaging the audience of Best Buddies, friends, and family to clap along with him—which they enthusiastically did. His performance was outstanding and spontaneous, and even the people who approached the stage to take him off of it seemed to agree and let him remain to perform with the band. It was amazing. Danielle then asked me if I would like to pair up with Matti and I said “definitely.”

Matti and I have incredible amounts of fun together. Many of my friends have gotten to meet and understand Matti and he has managed to grow as an independent individual by coming to concerts Im DJing and entertaining himself when I’m busy performing or having conversations with people. It’s a very special feeling to see Matti making new friends out of total strangers with his humour and good charm. All this is made possible by the friendship that Best Buddies bridged between Matti and myself.

Best Buddies is significantly important in this day and age. Some people in the world still suffer an archaic understanding of what it means to be a person with special needs. Many misinformed people place those with special needs in a separate social class from the one they consider themselves to be in. Best Buddies is an organization that breaks down those walls of misunderstanding; showing the community that we are all equals in our friendships with one another. When a chapter group gets together in a public space for a meeting or a meal we take over the room and explode with laughter, good times, and friendship. When outsiders see us together in unity we become an example of those broken down walls; and I would like to think that more often than not, Best Buddies is the definitive program which opens the eyes and changes the opinions of those who may have been ignorant, blinded, and inconsiderate in their attitudes towards persons with special needs—perhaps even compelling some of those to find interest in becoming a Buddy themselves.

As I said Matti and myself have a very special friendship. Matti also has many nicknames for me: Crazy DJ Guy, Daniels, Dogface, Grandpa, Son, and Captain Hook—to name a few. Through our amazing adventures and experiences together we have become inseparable companions—and I consider Matti to be among my most trusted friends in the world. We keep in contact when I’m away from home and hang out often when I am. Best Buddies was the glue that solidified together our friendship; providing us with frequent and fun events to meet with our other buddies—and that is a very special thing. To sum it up, Matti is my Best Buddy and on this fascinating path we call life, I know that he will always be close by: dancing, partying, and laughing all the way.

– Nathaniel Vossen

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