Hundreds celebrate inclusion at Ed Ansin Best Buddies Friendship Walk in downtown Miami

Hundreds of South Floridians spent part of their weekend in the sun as they broke a sweat and walked for a good cause.

7News cameras captured an enthusiastic crowd at Maurice Ferré Park in downtown Miami as they prepared to take part in Ed Ansin Best Buddies Friendship Walk, Saturday morning.

“Let’s walk for inclusion,” said a speaker.

This year’s event included familiar faces from the 7News family, including anchors Craig Stevens and Jeff Lennox.

“We’re back, bigger and better than ever,” Stevens said as he addressed attendees.

Anthony Kennedy Shriver started Best Buddies International more than 30 years ago.

“Over 1,000 people have come out here and support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” he said. “It says a lot about our community.”

The nonprofit aims to foster opportunities for employment and personal connections for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“Whether it’s finding employment for people with intellectual disabilities, housing for them, friendship and inclusion and leadership training,” said Kennedy Shriver. “We’ve got to stay at it every single day, so the takeaway when you leave, I hope, is that you’re inspired to do more.”

Best Buddies participants Allen and Jonathan said the walk is one of many bonding experiences the organization provides.

“It’s a learning experience, it’s cool,” said Allen.

“Anyone who’s involved, any of the Buddies, it gives them a new sense of perspective,” said Jonathan. “You realize what’s really important.”

When asked to name his favorite part of being a part of Best Buddies, Allen replied, “The friendship.”

WSVN and the Ansin family are proud partners of Best Buddies program in South Florida and in Boston.

“It’s wonderful to see all the Buddies again, and the spirit is contagious,” said James Ansin, co-president and general manager of Sunbeam Television Corporation.

“I’m just incredibly inspired by all the passion for Best Buddies, and meeting a lot of Best Buddies who are very grateful for all the opportunities they’ve had,” said Stephanie Ansin, Ed Ansin’s daughter.

This year’s walk is extra special because it’s named after broadcast pioneer Ed Ansin, WSVN’s late owner and co-founder.

He was a devoted philanthropist who was committed to and gave a lot of his time to Best Buddies and other organizations serving South Florida.

“He would walk in Miami and walk in Boston, so it was nice to memorialize the name of this event,” said James Ansin.

“He really believed in giving people opportunities. He was given so many — from his family, his education and security in the world — and it was very important for him to give back,” said Stephanie Ansin.

“To do this in his honor, I think, couldn’t be a better tie-in for the Ansin family, the foundation and the TV station,” said Paul Magnes, co-president and general manager of Sunbeam Television Corporation.

Ed Ansin has left behind a long-lasting legacy in South Florida that ensures inclusion in the community for all.

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