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James and Brandon: Best Buddies

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Junior James Clavey looks at his best friend, Brandon Fisher. Clavey and Fisher both have Muscular Dystrophy, a group of diseases that progressively weakens a person’s muscle mass. Their disease has brought them together and was the initial reason for their close friendship.

“Muscular Dystrophy is a group of diseases that cause progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass. In muscular dystrophy, abnormal genes (mutations) interfere with the production of proteins needed to form healthy muscle,” according to the Mayo Clinic. There are many different kinds of muscular dystrophy. Symptoms typically arise during childhood, and it is most common in males.

Juniors James Clavey and Brandon Fisher are best friends who both have Muscular Dystrophy, but it in no way impedes upon their strong friendship.

Freetime Fun

Clavey and Fisher met the summer before their freshman year at Fisher’s eighth-grade graduation party. Clavey’s first impression of Fisher was that “he was in a wheelchair like [him], and he had the same disease as [him]. [He was] happy [that he] had a new friend to hang out with.”

Fisher added, “I thought he seemed like a nice person. We were sort of friends right away.”

They love telling jokes to each other. Both Fisher and Clavey complimented each other’s sense of humor, calling it one of the other’s best qualities. Others have noticed this, too.

“I think they share a similar sense of humor… very silly, very sarcastic and just fun,” stated Mr. Christopher Crawford, Clavey and Fisher’s integrated PE aide, Mr. Crawford typically spends 50 minutes a day with them during their gym class.

Fran Clavey, James’s mom, also sees how happy they are when together, and how “they are such goof balls when they are together. They are always cracking jokes and laughing.”

Clavey and Fisher have friends who recognize their incredible bond, including Clavey’s former peer buddy Grace Hurley, who is a recent LHS graduate; she currently attends the University of Belmont.

“The understanding they have for each other, like how they are always on the same wavelengths with their jokes, and how they’re always so joyful together and [how] they can have a whole conversation and no one else will know what is going on with them, it’s just really awesome to watch,” said Hurley over the phone.  “When they’re together, they are definitely very goofy. They just are laughing constantly and making fun of each other and being sarcastic.”

Fisher and Clavey love going to the movies together; they go to see whatever good movies come out, according to Fisher. Additionally, they spend a lot of time together at Best Buddies, a club that forms friendships between students with and without disabilities, and Capernaum, a weekly Christian youth group for high schoolers with special needs. They also enjoy hanging out at each other’s houses.

 

Making Memories

Clavey’s favorite memory of their friendship was when he went to Fisher’s pool birthday party this past July at Fisher’s aunt’s house. This was one of his favorite memories because they both love to swim.

Mr. Crawford has been with them their whole high school careers and has been able to make a multitude of memories with them. “The one thing that stood out the most was seeing … them both come out of their shell. It’s not a specific moment in time, but just over the course of these three years, to see them really flourish,” said Mr. Crawford.

Over the summer, Clavey and Fisher attended a Muscular Dystrophy Association camp together. They were able to go horseback riding, swimming, fishing and meet many new friends. Also, they were very excited when they found out that they were rooming together, according to Mrs. Clavey.  

Last year, Clavey and Fisher were telling each other jokes during the Best Buddies Talent Show when all of sudden, the jokes stopped and they were handed cardboard shields and swords and “fought to the death,” as they put it, during the talent show.

“My favorite memory of them is definitely watching them joust at the Best Buddies Talent Show and go through this whole elaborate thing. It just kind of showed their personalit[ies] to everyone watching and not being shy, letting themselves out there,” mentioned Hurley.

 

Impactful Friendship

Having Fisher as a friend, Clavey feels more confident because he has someone to relate to: “We have the same disease, so we can talk to each other about our problems.”

One of the most important things about their friendship is that they care about each other and support each other. “He’s always there for me,” said Fisher. “We are both in a wheelchair, so we understand what it’s like.”  

Clavey added: “He looks out for me, and I look out for him.”

Mrs. Clavey sees them as more than just friends: “They seem like brothers. They know what the other one needs.”

Clavey and Fisher’s closeness is evident. “I think they have a lot in common, and I think they share a lot of experiences together and because of that, I think they can form that bond that they can’t with a lot of other people,” said Mr. Crawford.

These commonalities have enhanced their friendship, Hurley explained: “They both have the same struggles, and they both don’t see each other as their wheelchairs, but they see each other as an amazing person, which they are, and a lot of people can’t get past looking at their wheelchair, and so it’s special that they are able to have someone to be themselves with and enjoy life with and be the best that they can.”

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James and Brandon: Best Buddies