Davis & Elkins College alumnus Clay Weintraub was one of two keynote speakers during the Closing Ceremony of the 2024 Best Buddies Friendship Walk on April 27 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The speech, delivered to 2000 participants and supporters, concluded an event that raised nearly $385,000 for Best Buddies friendships, supported employment, leadership and inclusive living programs for people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD).

Weintraub, a graduate of the Class of 2020 and current ambassador of Best Buddies International, began with the organization through their Living Program. This program is designed as one of five key pillars of the organization to foster an integrated experience for people with and without IDD. From there, Weintraub found additional opportunity in the Jobs Program, helping to secure work that matches the interests and talents of the seeker. As an ambassador, Weintraub will be traveling to Indiana University during the summer for the Best Buddies Leadership Conference as a representative of the Capital Region.

“Clay has always been a very dedicated and driven student and professional, and that much certainly held true in completing his Bachelor of Arts in history at D&E. As an alumnus of the College, it is deeply rewarding to see that he has experienced such profound purpose and sense of community in Best Buddies International,” says Director of The Naylor Learning Center and Adjunct Faculty in Psychology and Sociology, Derek Fincham. “We’re thrilled to know that Molly Whalen, who’s also associated with Davis & Elkins College, has facilitated such a beautiful opportunity for alumni like Clay who previously participated in The Supported Learning Program at D&E.”

State Director of the Capital Region, Molly Whalen, continues, “Watching Clay speak so passionately from the heart in front of 2000 Best Buddies supporters about his journey from Davis & Elkins College to his full-time employment and independent living in D.C. was so inspiring! He powerfully impacted the crowd with his self-confidence and enthusiasm.”

Alongside the Jobs and Living programs, the remaining key mission pillars of Best Buddies International are Friendship, Leadership Development and Family Support. Best Buddies has grown into a leading nonprofit entity with reach across six continents. The organization continues its mission to provide substantial resources to those with IDD.

Through D&E, the Supported Learning Program (SLP) is a comprehensive fee-for-service program that provides support beyond federally mandated accommodations. The SLP takes a holistic approach to student success, supporting areas of academic success, independent living, social skills and ensuring the transition and matriculation of students with disabilities at D&E.