Member Spotlight: Nancy O’Dell of Entertainment Tonight

September 2, 2011

Name: Nancy O’Dell

From: Los Angeles, California

Occupation: Host, Entertainment Tonight

TEAM MARIA Alumni?  What leg of the race?

Yes! Last, year I did the 15 mile ride.

Why did you join TEAM MARIA?

I have known Maria, her brother Anthony (founder of Best Buddies) and the Shriver family for years. I was working in local news in Miami and was asked to cover a story on the Best Buddies. I knew this was one of those things that was meant to be.

I had my own best buddy-my Aunt Ellen. She was a person who had Down Syndrome. She lived with my grandparents and growing up, she was a wonderful friend for me. Oh the hours we spent playing when I would go visit my grandparents. We would play the piano and organ, shoot basketball, play catch and putt-putt golf, go bowling, or just watch tv.

She would ask me questions all the time like: What can’t go to school like you? Why can’t I be a cheerleader too? Why can’t I be in a school band? I didn’t have any answers for her. I remember taking some of the questions to my grandfather, but I’ll never forget his answer when I asked him “Why did God make her the way he did?”. He answered with: “Because he knew what a good friend she could be to you.”

So I am honored to ride on Team Maria for my Aunt Ellen and all the other buddies who make the most wonderful friends!

Why is the Best Buddies program, and its mission, so important?

Aunt Ellen had a lot of love to give the world, but most of the world didn’t know what she had to offer. She made them feel uncomfortable and they went ahead and organized ball games without ever asking her to be on the team. They had no idea what a great friend she could be.

Well a lot has changed since Aunt Ellen was a girl. And so much of that has to do with what the Shriver family has done – from Special Olympics to Best Buddies. Best Buddies has close to 1500 chapters around the world, has impacted nearly 700,000 participants and as a result of their involvement with BB, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have secured rewarding jobs, live on their own, have become inspirational leaders, and have made lifelong friendships.

I thank Best Buddies for that…for making a difference in so many lives!

What motivates you to participate in the Best Buddies Challenge?

My beautiful memories of my Aunt Ellen motivate me and all the wonderful things Best Buddies does for people with intellectual disabilities. It’s such a wonderful organization and I’m honored to be riding on Team Maria!

What is the URL to your personal TEAM MARIA fundraising page?

Anything else you would like to share?

It really was an honor to be a part of the recent Team Maria Benefit in Los Angeles. Watch the segment below on my story and the amazing event!

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