Friends to the Finish Line

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Sam Goto is aptly named—for several years now, Sam has been the ‘go-to’ for many people involved in Friendship Circle of Central Jersey. He’s the FC alumni who still keeps in close contact with the former volunteers who started out as his program buddies and grew into lifelong friends. He’s the person who loaned his voice to a non-verbal boy while volunteering his own time, singing the child’s favorite songs without missing a beat. Sam is one of the many young adults who has benefited from Friendship Circle since it was founded in 2001. Since then, Friendship Circle, located in Manalapan, NJ, has been helping to foster friendships and create opportunities for children and young adults like Sam in Monmouth, Middlesex and Ocean counties. And for a shining example of what Friendship Circle can and does accomplish, Sam’s story is the perfect go-to.

Recently, Sam and his family were able to look back on his long history with Friendship Circle as he raced on Team Friend- ship in the Miami Marathon. During the race, Sam got to enjoy what he loves: good times surrounded by friends and fami- ly—something that Friendship Circle gave him when he needed it most.

On the eve of the race, Sam took the spotlight during dinner, where everyone had the chance to see “Sam’s Story” firsthand. The evening culminated in dancing that lasted well into the evening where Sam was placed in a chair and lifted, supported and celebrated by many hands—an apt metaphor for his early years in Friendship Circle. The following day, Sam stood at the starting line with Liz Newman, a member of Friendship Circle’s staff, by his side. Liz was an integral part of Sam’s participation in the race–not only did she help him to train for the big day, she was right there running alongside him every step of the way.

And his efforts were well-rewarded. When he crossed the 11th mile of the marathon with Liz by his side, his circle of friends was right there to cheer him on.

Sam is a wonderful example of the power of friendship, not only for himself and his family, but also for Friendship Circle. This is not merely a buddy program, it’s an opportunity to forge deeper bonds for everyone, participants and volunteers alike, to benefit from all the gifts true friendships bring: support, care, and an undeniable feeling of self-worth and belonging.

In Friendship, Renata Magurdumov • Friendship Circle of Central Jersey • M: 917.647.1762
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Ten things every individual with special needs wishes you knew:

See me for who I am…I hear, see and feel the world differently than you…I want friends, just like everyone else…My behavior is my way of communicating… Interact with me in ways I can understand…I live in the here and now…I am anxious and worry a lot…Routine is really important to me…I need your help to access the world and learn…Think about what I can do, not what I can’t! =)