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Two Best Buddies from La Plata High School were selected to take their friendship to Capitol Hill.

Tyler Moyer, 17, and Brandon Garner, 16, are part of the Best Buddies program at the school and also take part in the unified sports programs at the school.

The two were selected to represent the Southern Maryland chapters of Best Buddies on Capitol Hill for Special Olympics and Best Buddies Advocacy Day on March 6 but, due to inclement weather, were not able to attend.

Tom Waite, deputy director of operations for Best Buddies Maryland, said Brandon and Tyler were selected because they have demonstrated that they believe in the organization through their participation and commitment.

While the two were unable to attend last week, Waite said they “were there in spirit,” and that other Best Buddies were there to represent for Tyler, Brandon and the rest of Best Buddies Maryland.

The advocacy day was for those representing people with disabilities to shine light on the struggles, abilities and triumphs of Americans with intellectual developmental disabilities and generate an awareness of programs such as Best Buddies and Special Olympics. It was also a time for advocates to promote the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Act, which, according to information from U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer’s office, reauthorizes the Special Olympics Sport and Empowerment Act and authorizes the Department of Education to make grants to Best Buddies to support the expansion and development of mentoring programs for people with intellectual disabilities.

In a press release, Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) wrote, “I’m pleased I could receive their input on steps that Congress can take to support their mission, including passing the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Act, bipartisan legislation that passed the House in 2010 and that I was proud to reintroduce today ...”

The Best Buddies program is a national nonprofit organization bringing students in regular classes and students in special education classes closer together, enhancing friendships and opportunities.

Developed by Special Olympics, the unified sports programs combine students with and without disabilities on the same team. They compete against similar teams from the county and state. Brandon said he and Tyler play unified bocce and tennis. Tyler reminded his buddy that the two of them would also be participating in unified track this spring.

Brandon said what he likes about the Best Buddies program is that he gets to be an officer, which allows him special privileges — such as signing people in and out.

Brandon said he likes Tyler mostly because “he is a good person.”

Brandon wanted to get the message across to political leaders of the bonding experiences offered in Best Buddies programs, such as the bonding he and Brandon have had.

“It’s fun hanging out with other Best Buddies and each other,” Tyler said.

Through the program, Tyler said, buddy pairs do many activities as a group, allowing for even more interaction between those with and without disabilities.

Tyler said La Plata has a relatively small program with about eight buddy pairs. He said that even with a smaller group than other schools, the Best Buddies have a lot of fun together.

Recently, Best Buddies at La Plata were encouraging students to pledge to “spread the word to end the word,” which Brandon said was aimed at getting people to stop using “the ‘R’ word because it is a very bad word.” Spread the Word to End the Word is a national campaign to stop the use of the word “retarded” in a negative way.

gphillips@somdnews.com