MIAMI (WSVN) - Some of Best Buddies’ best buddies took over the streets of Downtown Miami, as they went on a fun-filled walk for a good cause, Saturday morning.

It was a picture perfect day for a stroll for a few thousand friends along Bayfront Park to raise money and awareness for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities

The Best Buddies Friendship Walk celebrates the many relationships made and the jobs found for those in the community with special needs.

“I like my job, and I like the people I work with,” said Barbie Torres. “I’ve been there at Holland and Knight for 23 years.

Stefani Dailey, Torres’ coworker, couldn’t help but to praise her Best Buddy. “What Barbie has done for our firm is to open up our eyes to people with disabilities,” she said. “We could see through her efforts that these people could do the jobs that we do.”

Part of what makes the South Florida walk, now in its eighth year, extra special is that it raises more money than any other Friendship Walk in the world.

“Florida has set the standard for, really, the entire world, what it means to love in a diverse culture and have inclusion and promote the power of friendship,” said David Quilleon, Best Buddies’ senior vice president of programs and state development. “This community is so incredible, helping us raise so much money.”

7News anchor Craig Stevens hosted the event. The station’s team took part in the walk and showed support for Gabriel, who joined the Channel 7 family this year, spending about 20 hours a week on the job.

WSVN is among the walk’s corporate sponsors.

There’s an important message of inclusion at the heart of Friendship Walk — but also plenty of fun and laughs.

Also, plenty of money was raised for the international nonprofit by dozens of corporate teams and individuals — all to help train and employ others.

“This is a group of people who by far have been the most maligned and disenfranchised in the world,” said Quilleon, “and so, when we provide them with an opportunity to not live in the shadows and have an awesome job and be connected with friends and have an opportunity to be leaders, the sky’s the limit for what they can do and how they can change a company’s culture, and really just promote the power of friendship.”

It’s all to give a sense of belonging, purpose and pride to those with special needs, and every step taken at Saturday’s event helped make that goal a reality.

Saturday’s event raised more than $500,000. Since 2009, more than 200,000 participants have walked in over 30 states and raised more than $16 million for Best Buddies.

If you or your company would like to be a part of ‘Best Buddies, or you’d like to contribute, click here.

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