The good weather and festive atmosphere on the intramural fields Saturday afternoon were infectious and there were smiles all around as the Best Buddies organization and the InterFraternity Council (IFC) collaborated to host a philanthropy event benefitting the Special Olympics.
Best Buddies raised $710 and will be receiving a lump sum donation from IFC. All proceeds from the event went to the Special Olympics.
The event, hosted by the two student organizations, featured a variety of activity stations such as soccer, a dunk tank, basketball and volleyball.
Best Buddies is a nonprofit student organization that partners with members of the community who have development disabilities. This is the organization's second year hosting a philanthropy event benefitting the Special Olympics, and its first year partnering with IFC.
Each station was hosted by an individual fraternity, and all fraternities were present at the event. Approximately 85 members of Best Buddies and between 150-200 members of IFC participated. Other students, such as members of UR sororities, also participated, bringing the total number of participants close to 300.
“This is exactly what we expected and more,” junior Tabby Bruck, president of Best Buddies, said. “I’m super happy about the amount of participation from the holistic campus community.”
Dave Fishman RC ‘18, president of IFC, and Matt Isenburg, RC ‘18, IFC’s vice president of programming, decided that the event was the ideal community engagement opportunity for IFC.
“We wanted to make an impact in a positive light,” Isenburg said. “We were already envisioning an event like this when we learned about it and decided that this was perfect for us.”
IFC leaders are hoping that this event will begin a trend of further involvement.
“I really want to make ‘aligning our [Greek] letters with our values’ our new motto,” Fishman said. “Events like this should be the norm.”
The buddies enjoyed crafting friendship bracelets, playing basketball and having fun with face painting and the dunk tank station.
Maria Vennikov, WC ‘19, has been a member of Best Buddies for the past two years and was in charge of the face painting station.
“Best Buddies isn’t volunteer work,” Vennikov said. “It’s friendship. The buddies are really smart, but a lot of people don’t understand them. I want to help break that stigma.”
This sentiment was echoed by many Best Buddies members. Members enjoy building friendships with the buddies and getting to know their families. This event was another way for members to bond with their buddies for a good cause.
One of the buddy pairs, Marissa Schebell WC '19, and Laura Budu, have developed a close friendship over the year and enjoyed the day's activities.
“I had fun with the water balloon toss, basketball, and soccer,” Budu said. “I also like Marissa very much!”
To conclude the event, Best Buddies invited Emily Bower of Special Olympics Virginia (SOVA) as a guest speaker. Bower spoke to the crowd about her own story, discussing how she tried to overcome her developmental disorder and become a Global Messenger for Special Olympics.
“I have been able to find my voice in SOVA,” Bower said in her speech. “Because of events like this I am more outgoing and fearless than I ever thought I could be. I am a friend of Best Buddies forever.”
Contact reporter Julia Raimondi at firstname.lastname@example.org.