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Raising Funds for Best Buddies

— Eric Latcheran and Kevin Whalen are teaming up again for Best Buddies. Both are participating this month in the annual Best Buddies Challenge in Washington, D.C.

But before they can do so, they have to raise money to donate to the cause. Toward that end, they’re holding a Bartenders Night fundraiser, Thursday, Oct. 11, from 5-8 p.m., at Glory Days Grill. It’s at 13850 Braddock Road in the Old Centreville Crossing Shopping Center.

Best Buddies brings people with intellectual disabilities together with peer buddies in friendships that, one by one, are creating opportunities in schools — and, post graduation, in the community and workplace.

During the Oct. 20 Best Buddies Challenge, Whalen and his Little Rascals team will bicycle 100 miles from the District to Leesburg. Latcheran, 25, of Chantilly’s Poplar Tree Estates community, will participate in the fun run.

Although he has intellectual disabilities, that doesn’t stop Latcheran from having a job and leading a full life. He also has good friends, such as Whalen, of Centreville’s Walney Glen community. And each year, they partner to help Best Buddies.

Proceeds from the event will directly benefit the Virginia Chapter of Best Buddies and local schools — including Centreville, Chantilly and Westfield high schools — containing Best Buddies chapters. That’s why Whalen and Latcheran are hoping for a good turnout at Bartenders Night.

“We’re going to show our Best Buddies colors, bring awareness to a great organization and have fun,” said Whalen. “Eric and I will be bartending, and my Little Rascals team will be working the door, giving out Best Buddies material, cleaning tables and selling raffle tickets for Glory Days Grill, Bonefish Grill and Dogfish Alehouse gift cards, as well as sports jerseys.”

The jerseys will be from the Washington Redskins, Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Steelers (NFL game night). Also raffled off will be a baseball autographed by Nationals Manager Davey Johnson. Raffle tickets will cost $5.

Raffle-ticket proceeds, bartenders’ tips and 10 percent of Glory Days food sales that evening will be contributed to the cause. For more information, see www.bestbuddiesvirginia.org. Donations may also be made at www.dcchallenge2011.org/kevinwhalen.

Said Latcheran’s mom, Gina: “Eric and I are very excited about giving back to Best Buddies so that many more self-advocates with intellectual disabilities and their families can enjoy the friendship and networking Best Buddies Virginia has to offer — not only in middle schools, high schools and colleges — but now following the graduates into the work place and in the social network.”