MIAMI (WSVN) - It was all about having fun with friends, as thousands of people laced up their sneakers for the Best Buddies Friendship Walk in Downtown Miami, Saturday.

The nonprofit organization invited families out for a day of fun at Museum Park, with proceeds benefiting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Alexis Greenberg, who has been involved with Best Buddies for over 10 years and is a top fundraiser, said the event brings joy to her life. “Being in Best Buddies means having a lot of friends who get to know you and just being happy, and there’s a lot of happiness around here,” she said.

One of the foundation’s main objectives is to find jobs for those with special needs, and participants said it’s a process that benefits everyone involved.

Among those who showed up was Sylvia Berkshire of Royal Media Partners, the exclusive on-board media partner of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

Berkshire said her Best Buddy has benefited from having been able to find work. “It’s so special for him to come into work and do whatever we ask,” said Berkshire. “He does it with pride, says hi to everyone in the organization. He doesn’t miss a single person in the morning, and it just has built morale. We are much closer.”

Several familiar faces from the 7News team were also in attendance, including anchor Craig Stevens, who emceed the program.

Anthony Shriver, Best Buddies’ founder and chairman, said South Florida’s support is second to none. “We raise more money here in South Florida than anywhere in the world,” he said. “We’re in 52 countries around the world, all 50 states, and we raise more money here. We have more people employed here, we have more schools involved, we have more school-age volunteers here. South Florida is an example for the rest of the nation.”

Once the walk began, participants strolled along Biscayne Bay by the American Airlines Arena alongside 7’s Belkys Nerey and Lynn Martinez.

Along with fun and laughter, the event raised more $500,000 to train and employ people with special needs. “That’s part of being a human being, is to feel like you belong, that you count, that you have value, and I think employment in so many ways is that,” said Shriver.

More than 7,000 people across 46 cities have participated in Best Buddies walks since 2009.

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