Golfer mentors through Best Buddies program


Michae Makin (left) and NKU golfer Jones Brown (right) met through the Best Buddies program.

Many college students are multitaskers; they are involved in clubs, organizations or sports along with a full schedule of class work. At NKU there are over 200 clubs that are available for students to join, ranging from club soccer to choirs.

A senior sports business major, Jones Brown, has been a member of the golf team for four years and he is also involved in Best Buddies. His buddy’s name is Michael Makin, he is 25 years old and he has down syndrome.

Best Buddies is a nonprofit organization that was started in 1989 by the son of the woman who started Special Olympics. It was created for high school and college students to be paired up with individuals who have intellectual disabilities. Involvement at NKU began three years ago.

“I can’t begin to tell you how great of a guy Jones is,” Ray Makin, Michael’s father said. “Michael loves him to death. It’s just so good for Michael. Jones has just been amazing to him.”

Jones and Michael have been buddies for two years. They talk on the phone at least once a week and they hang out three or four times a month. Michael attends Jones’ golf matches and they go to events together for the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati (DSAGC).

“One of my friends who was a soccer player told me he thought I’d be good for the club,” Brown said. “I had never worked with kids with down syndrome before; it was definitely an eye-opening experience.”

Michael loves to play and watch golf. He’s been in the best buddies program for three years. He hangs out with most of the golf team that he’s met through different tournaments he’s attended with Jones.

“When you see them, they really are like best buddies,” Daryl Landrum, NKU golf coach said. “He looks up to Jones and Jones cares about him a lot. It’s a very unique friendship there.”

Michael and Jones go to the golf range often to just hit balls and talk. According to Jones, Michael is pretty good and can hit pretty hard.

“I went into best buddies not thinking anything of it,” Brown said. “But I got someone who I talk to all the time and is important in my life and the golf team. We’ve completely embraced him.”

If you’re interested in getting involved with the Best Buddies program at NKU contact Emma Verbanic at to get more information or add the program through orgsync.