ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A pair of Albuquerque teens competed against hundreds of others across the world, and now they are finalists for a friendship award.
“We’re in the top three to be awarded for the best friendship in the Best Buddies organization,” Alexis Ramsey said.
Best Buddies is an international program that promotes social inclusion for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The program has been implemented in 52 countries all around the world. Cleveland High School started its chapter two years ago.
“When I transferred to Cleveland, I didn’t know anybody. I come from a very small town up and going to a school of 2,400 students was a culture shock,” Lexi said. “I was having a bad day and he just came up to me and hugged me and I said, ‘That’s just what I needed.'”
Since then, the duo’s friendship has grown outside of school.
Lexi attends a lot of Matt’s sports games.
“I love basketball, track,” Matthew Nelson said.
Matt said he does his part too to be there for Lexi. She was president of Cleveland’s Future Farmers of America club where sometimes she would have to give a speech.
“I do get nervous speaking in front of people, so having him in the crowd was always a nice little calmer,” she said.
For the first time, the program decided to give a friendship award to one pair of best buddies from around the world. It’s called the 2017 Alex and Ani Friendship of the Year award.
“I knew their story was special when I nominated them,” Amanda Munk said.
Munk is the Best Buddies of New Mexico Friendship Program Manager.
“Seeing that they are one of the top three, it makes the experience that much more exciting,” she said.
And even though Lexi graduated in May, she wants to stay friends with Matt for life.
“It’s something that’s going to be there no matter where you live or where you go,” Lexi said. “It’s going to be something that sticks and stays.”
Lexi and Matt are going up against another pair from Florida and one from Virginia. The winners will be announced next weekend at an international conference in Indiana.