Breaking from her Shell
From a shy, timid freshman to a bubbly, outgoing senior, Maddie Griffith made a smooth transition during her sophomore year. This transition was all thanks to her school’s Best Buddies program and her close friend, Ryan.
“Ryan was very involved with Unified, the special ed version of a sport. He noticed me with Chris, [my buddy], and reached out to me about Unified Track. I was hesitant because I was late to sign up. I went, and I loved it. I went from the most shy girl joining late to most involved,” Griffith said.
Since then, Griffith has been the lively, talkative girl she is now and continues to work with autistic kids in many different ways including her job at BACA (Behavioral Analysis Center for Autism), fundraising, and spending much of her free time with the kids she works with.
“I raised the most money for Polar Plunge at my school, which is where you raise money for Special Olympics, and you jump in the lake when it’s fall and freezing out. It is a way to get people to donate money. To motivate my sponsors, I tell them I’ll send pictures and videos of me jumping in the lake at the end. I also send a thank you to all my sponsors with a picture of me and my buddy from the Friendship Walk,” Griffith said.
Griffith is seen to everyone else as a peer and teacher for these kids, but she explains how none of them see her that way. They all see her as a best friend; something that many of them may not have had in the past. She also explains how they have impacted her life over the years.
“They are all my kids. I know so much about each one of them. I swear, I’m like a mother to all of them. I take care of them, I play with them; I do it all. The best thing that I’ve learned from these kids that I kind of lost going into high school is to goof off. They remind me every day about how awesome it is to be unapologetically yourself,” Griffith said.