This year, over 2,000 people participated in the 20th Annual Best Buddies Challenge: Hyannis Port presented by Pepsi-Cola and Shaw’s and Star Market Foundation, a cycling, run and walk fundraiser from Boston to Hyannis Port, May 31 – June 1.
The Challenge raised $6.6 million in total donations for Best Buddies International, a nonprofit dedicated to creating opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
Tom Brady, New England Patriots Quarterback and Best Buddies Global Ambassador, served as Honorary Co-Chair, along with Celebrity Chef Guy Fieri and Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy, III. During the Challenge, Event Chair Ted English, Executive Chairman of Bob’s Discount Furniture, helped honor Steve DiFillippo, chef, restaurateur and owner of Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse in Boston, with the 2019 Spirit of Leadership award. This is Best Buddies’ highest accolade presented to organizations who show great leadership, generosity and spirit in supporting the Best Buddies mission.
The weekend’s festivities kicked off with the Best Buddies Tom Brady Football Challenge and the Guy Cooking with Best Buddies Celebrity Chef Food and Wine Festival on Friday, May 31. Fans enjoyed delicious treats by Chobani, MGM Springfield, Shaw’s and Star Market, and Pepsi-Cola as they filled the stands at Harvard Stadium to watch Team Pepsi-Cola take on Team Shaw’s and Star Market Foundation. It was a thrilling game but in the end, Team Pepsi-Cola came out with the win over Team Shaw’s and Star Market Foundation, with a final score of 80 to 72.
During the game, Brady played quarterback for Team Pepsi-Cola and Team Shaw’s & Star Market Foundation alongside Best Buddies participants, supporters, and special guests, including his sons, Jack and Benny. Past and present New England Patriots participated in the game, including Julian Edelman, James White, Troy Brown, Ted Karras, Christian Furia, and Dan Koppen; who were also joined by Governor of Massachusetts Charlie Baker. Several other celebrities attended the weekend festivities, including actor Michael Chiklis; Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst; Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, and Governor of New Hampshire Chris Sununu.
Friday evening concluded with the Fourth Annual Guy Cooking with Best Buddies Celebrity Chef Food and Wine Festival presented by Pepsi-Cola, Shaw’s and Star Market Foundation. More than 30 chefs from top local restaurants provided food tastings and complimentary wine and spirits options, and several Best Buddies sous chefs prepared delicious food for guests, all for a great cause. Steve DiFillippo, founder of the renowned Davio’s Restaurant Group, and Randy Greenstein, principle owner of Big Night Entertainment Group, served as the special Chef Vice-Chairs of the event.
Guests enjoyed a special dinner reception after the Food and Wine Festival, where Best Buddies Ambassador Topher Zheng spoke about the organization’s profound impact on his life. Buddy sous chef who participated in the Food and Wine Festival were later presented with a personally-signed certificate of completion from Guy Fieri. During the dinner reception, Best Buddies auctioned off The Remarkable, a special limited-edition Hublot timepiece and the first women’s timepiece in collaboration with the organization.
During the festivities, Anthony K. Shriver encouraged guests to “Sponsor a Buddy” (to attend the Best Buddies International Leadership Conference in July) through the Tom Brady Football Toss. Brady tossed signed footballs to guests who paid $2,000 for each one, giving Best Buddies participants the opportunity to attend the conference. In total, the football tosses and auctions raised $139,500 at both Friday’s celebration and Saturday’s clambake in Hyannis Port.
On Saturday, June 1, Best Buddies Challenge: Hyannis Port participants turned out in droves for a 100, 50, or 20 mile bike ride and laced up their running shoes for a 5K run/walk. Best Buddies Ambassador Franklin Nichols sang a powerful rendition of the “National Anthem,” at the opening ceremonies for the 100-mile. Professional cyclists George Hincapie and Christian Vande Velde, who both rode on Team Hublot, were among the group of riders making their way down the picturesque New England streets.
The Challenge was capped off by a celebratory clambake that included a live cooking demonstration by Best Buddies Global Ambassador Guy Fieri, Julian Edelman and several buddy sous chefs, and a private concert by Flo Rida, who rocked the crowd with several of his hits. The hip-hop star put on quite the show and brought several Best Buddies participants on stage for the experience of a lifetime!
This year’s event was another record-breaking success, and an excellent stride in making the world more inclusive for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.