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A Best Bud to the Disabled

October 24, 2013 By:
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Max and Jackie Levine

Mitzvah Hero: Upper Dublin resident Max Levine has linked up with Best Buddies Pennsylvania, an organization that helps individuals with intellectual and developmental challenges find friends who can guide them to rewarding social paths.

What It’s All About: Founded nearly 25 years ago by Anthony K. Shriver, the program now includes some 1,700 chapters around the world.

Levine, a former school teacher, went to his first local Best Buddies meeting eight years ago. He was sold on what he saw and heard about the organization, which literally befriends those shuttered away from society. Now, the 65-year-old is a board member.

“When you can bring friendship to a kid isolated in a room because of mental or physical disabilities, well, how big a mitzvah is that?”
 
Not a One-Time Thing: “I’ve always been looking for ways to give back,” explains Levine. “As a child of the Holocaust — both my parents are survivors — it’s had special meaning for me, and in my heart.” He was "introduced to Best Buddies eight years ago by my son-in-law, Matthew Andrews, who got a job for Best Buddies and is now senior director, state operations." (All in the family: Max's wife, Jackie, 62, a special education teacher in the Hatboro/Horsham district,  has been involved for  years in another organization, From the Heart.)  In a way, even Levine's current profession has a ring of mitzvah to it: His MG Marketing firm supplies stuffed animals to companies who use them to raise money for charities.

Good for Him: A parent himself, Levine knows how much meaning there is in watching a child evolve. Seeing growth in a child with a disability takes on a special sense of accomplishment. To that end, he and his wife are especially cheered to be serving as co-chairs of the concert committee staging a Nov. 7 benefit for Best Buddies. Broadway performer Jarrod Spector, just coming off of a long run as Frankie Valli in the Tony Award-winning Jersey Boys, will headline the event for the second year in a row. Levine and his wife have been friends of the star's parents, Chuck and Beth, of Meadowbrook, for years. 

“Uncle Max” avows that the grand finale will be grand indeed: Spector and his fiance, Kelly Barrett, will bring on stage a dozen of the children helped by Best Buddies, some with Down syndrome, others with autism.

“There won’t be a dry eye in the house.”

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