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Best Buddies club to host Flame concert for Disability Awareness Month

| Wednesday, March 28, 2018

As part of its series of Disability Awareness Month events, the Best Buddies Club at Notre Dame is hosting a free concert featuring the band Flame.

“[Best Buddies] is a club where we pair up with people in the community who have intellectual and developmental disabilities,” junior and disability awareness coordinator Maggie O’Connell said. “We meet a couple times a month and we are all assigned a buddy, and we basically hang out, dance and have parties. It’s all about gathering together the community and being inclusive — no matter your disability or ability, you come together and have a good time.”

Senior and Best Buddies club president Gregory Corning said although the club is simple, it has an important purpose.

“The real goal of the club is just to be their friend,” Corning said. “It is a really simple goal, but it is a goal that is often overlooked by people in society.”

The Best Buddies club hosted numerous events for Disability Awareness Month, including hanging Spread the Word to End the Word banners in both North and South Dining Halls. However, their biggest event for the month is bringing Flame to Notre Dame.

“Flame is a group of 10 individuals who play amazing music and also happen to have disabilities,” Corning said. “ … Their whole tagline is that they don’t let anything stop them from making the music that they want to make.”

Flame performed at Notre Dame before, about 10 years ago, and O’Connell said Best Buddies wanted to bring them back to campus.

“We thought they were good because, one, they have great music, but also because they showcase that disabilities mean a lot of things for a lot of people,” O’Connell said. “It was inclusive — they all came together despite the wide range of disabilities to go for the same goal.”

When asked what she wanted attendees to get out of their concert experience, O’Connell expressed a desire to expand others’ views about people with disabilities.

“I hope that they see that being inclusive through Best Buddies and Flame can be inspiring for a lot of people,” she said. “I know for the buddies to see people with disabilities up on stage being superstars gives them something to look up to. I also hope we can show the Notre Dame community that they have disabilities, sure, but that’s not what you need to focus on. They are much more than their disability.”

Corning expressed a similar sentiment when adressing what misconceptions about people with disabilities he would want to dispel.

“I think people think disabilities mean ‘disabled,’ but I think people with disabilities are a lot more able than people give them credit for,” Corning said. “This is sad, but I think this entire month is moving towards more of a realization that people with disabilities are really able. They might have something that slows them down, they might have something that impedes their success, but it doesn’t impede them from being a capable human being.”

Essentially, Flame and Best Buddies are working to show that people with disabilities can still live happy, meaningful lives with purpose and responsibility, O’Connell said.

“We want to break any stereotypes people may have about disabilities,” she said. “We want to focus on the fact that anyone can reach their full potential as a person and having a disability does not mean that you can’t do that.”

Flame will perform in the Dahnke Ballroom in the Duncan Student Center at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Admission is free.

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