Saturday, Special Olympian Lauren Deakin was cheered on by an unexpected group of fans.
As she ran and played in a softball toss as part of the Colorado Special Olympics track and field practice, cheers erupted from 18 members of CSUâ€™s Business Diversity & Leadership Alliance who sat on the sidelines.
Held at Fort Collinsâ€™ Webber Middle School, the practice allowed the group of CSU students to time events and measure throws by special olympians preparing for a regional meet as part of the 15th annual CSUnity day.
â€œWeâ€™re helping them measure and practice, and just having fun,â€ said Amanda White, a senior psychology major.
Whiteâ€™s group was just one of 200 that volunteered their time for CSUnity, a day during which students participated in various service assignments in Fort Collins and surrounding communities.
Projects ranged from assisting senior and disabled community members with various home and yard projects to assisting community agencies and organizations with projects, events or facility maintenance.
â€œIt was fantastic. CSU students were really engaged with the participants, and there wasnâ€™t an ounce of apprehension working with them,â€ Special Olympics Coach Rich Harter said.
The work of the CSU students didnâ€™t go unnoticed, particularly by the friends and family of Deakin who, at 4 years old was diagnosed with a mild mental disability. She often participates in Special Olympics events such as basketball and soccer, as well as running and the softball toss that was offered Saturday.
â€œThis is the most beautiful day weâ€™ve had for CSUnity and Special Olympics, so itâ€™s great to be out here with them,â€ said Katya Stewart-Sweeney, Business Diversity & Leadership Alliance adviser. â€œItâ€™s so inspirational, and it feels great to support what theyâ€™re doing.â€
At the sideline of the long-jump sand pit Blair Brownlee, a junior business administration major, was helping students out of the sand and making jokes with them.
â€œItâ€™s a blessing to be here and work with these kids, to see their passion and spirit. Itâ€™s great,â€ said Brownlee, a junior business administration major.
A majority of the 2,200 CSU volunteers were dispatched to elderly or disabled residents requesting help with various yard and housework projects.
â€œThey couldnâ€™t have done the work by themselves,â€ said Emily Swanson Parker, a senior biomedical sciences major.
Parker volunteered, with the Biomedical Student Association, at a Fort Collins residentâ€™s property picking up sticks, cleaning up the yard and recovering an exposed pipe in the backyard.
â€œWe had a whole day cleaning and bonding with our group that was outside of the one hour a week we would usually spend with each other,â€ Parker said.
And it was a day that the Fort Collins and surrounding communities were thrilled with the work of CSU students.
â€œ(Our resident) was really pleased with our work, which was good since we spent all day digging,â€ Parker said.
After spending the day raking leaves and filling 25 bags with her Key Academic Community, Angel Smith, a freshman political science and international studies major, described how residents brought out sandwiches, pop and juice to the volunteers in her group.
â€œIt showed that she really appreciated (the work we did),â€ Smith said.
Staff writer Vashti Batjargal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.