Special Olympics College

     To this point of my college career, the experiences I have had with Special Olympics at CMU have meant the most to me. I would not trade them for the world. SO College is one of the RSOs I have been apart of at Central my Sophomore year. I started getting involved with similar activities in high school through Victory Day. At Victory Day, Varsity Football players each got assigned an individual with intelectual dissibilities to be our partner for the day. We got to run drills with them and let them run in a touchdown on the field. It was one of my best moments in high school and pushed me towards Special Olympics in college. 

     I have been able to do a lot with the SO College this year. One of my favorite parts is participating in Unified Sports. We basically go through every sport, competing on teams that combine CMU students and Special Olympic athletes. This year I was able to participate in Football, Basketball, and hopefully kickball at the end of the year. Being around these athletes is one of my passions in life. I love to interact with every single one of them. Competing with the athletes has brought about a lot of joy  and lasting memories. My favorite memory was playing a basketball game on McGuirk arena and bringing home the W. By simply playing a sport, I have made connections that I may normally not have had or expected. It truly brings joy to my heart. Another fun experience was getting to volunteer at the opening of Texas Roadhouse where we were able to spread awareness for Special Olympics. There are so many great things I have been able to do this year through Special Olympics and I am excited to continue participating next year.

My Unified Basketball Team


     I am blessed that a couple of my friends share the same passion as me for Special Olympics. Being able to do these things with your friends make it even better. I will always enjoy this type of experience, and I hope to continue being involved in some way or another throughout my life. I have had a great experience with Special Olympics at Central Michigan University this year.

Service Across the Country

     One of the two Registered Student Organizations that I have been apart of this year is the Alternative Breaks program. CMU has one of the top AB programs in the country. I was lucky enough to have been able to participate on a Winter Break that went to Asheville, North Carolina. I went on the break focusing on Access to Sports and Recreation. We were able to work with a YMCA that held after school events for kids and ran a summer camp. We built a Gaga Ball pit, dug out a trench to help reduce the field from flooding, and ran a field day for the kids. It was awesome to improve their field and get to spend some time hanging out with the kids. Also, we were able to go out into a couple of communities and give out healthy food options and Turkeys for families to have for Christmas dinner. It was an amazing feeling to see how grateful each person was to receive a turkey and some healthy food.

The Whole AWB Group


     Coming into the week, I did not have super high expectations. I was completely blown away by the experience. I simply thought we would be volunteering at a YMCA, but it was much more than that. The things this YMCA were doing with having food drives that gave healthy options and steered people from using whatever canned food they were normally given does not get the credit it deserved. All of the workers at the YMCA had such passion for what they were doing. Especially Lisa Riggsbee, our community partner, who had so much passion and was doing so much that she was most likely not all required to do. This was such an amazing place with so many amazing people and I am so proud to have been on this break. Words can not fully describe how much this trip meant to me. My site leaders Alexandra and Cullan helped make the experience great along with my amazing group members. Everyone had such great personalities and a love for helping others.


I am so happy that I was able to experience an alternative break. It has had such a large impact in my life. I enjoyed my experience so much that I wanted to explore more that alternative breaks had to offer. This lead to me applying to become a site leader my self and be apart of the board. I was happy when I got accepted to be a site leader next year. As well, I will be one of the Weekends Site, Service,and Development Co-Chairs. I am so excited to be taking on these leadership roles next year and to be even more involved with Alternative Breaks.

Special Olympics Winter Games

This year I have been very involved with Special Olympics at CMU. One of the opportunities that CMU provides is the ability to attend the Winter Olympics. Every year over 100 CMU students sign up and volunteer over a weekend in January/February. We all sign up for certain jobs that we will do over that weekend. I was able to work on the ski hills where I would flag down if any of the athletes did not go through any of the gates. It was awesome to watch how awesome the athletes enjoyed being out on the hills and how talented they were in participating in the different Solemn events. I could tell they had worked very hard to be so skillful and had a passion for what they were doing.

During the nights once we returned from the outdoor events, students and athletes all joined together to have an opening ceremony. We all formed lanes for all of the athletes and their families to run through while we obnoxiously cheered them on. Watching all of their faces light up gave me a lot of joy. After all of the festivities, we were able to get together with all of the other volunteers and share our memories and hangout. On the last day of the competitions, all of the medal placing athletes were awarded their various medals. Then once we finished up and returned to the hotel, we had a closing ceremony. This time we created lanes again, but had bubbles and even more cheering and high-fives as the athletes ran through the lines showing pride with their medals around their neck. The amount of joy on each athletes face was amazing, especially the ones that continuously went back in line to run through the lanes again. There was also a motivational speaker that had once been injured in the army, and then went on to be a professional lifter despite losing a leg. To end it off, we all had a large dance party filled with smiles and pure joy. It was truly an amazing experience and I can not wait to go again next year.

Chase and I volunteering on the ski hills!

This was just one of my volunteer experiences this year, but it was definitely one of my favorites. It is so important to give back to the community and those that are less fortunate. If you are able to find something that you are passionate about it will be that much easier to go out and volunteer. That is exactly what I am doing with Special Olympics. I am excited to continue volunteering through Special Olympics and taking advantage of all of these amazing opportunities I am blessed with.

I’m Not Lucky I’m Blessed

Deciding to attend Central Michigan University has been the best decision in my life to this point. I am blessed to be able to call this place my second home. I have already changed and grown so much in just one short year of college. I came into college not knowing my future and just about anyone here. That soon changed with my LAS family! 47 amazing people that I am lucky enough to call my friends. They have taught me so much and made me want to be a better person.

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I came to Central as an uninformed kid that loved people, but was clueless about the issues around the world. There is so much change that needs to happen around the world and I know my fellow LASers and I are gonna make a difference in the world. Saving the world, whether it be the environment (no more disposable plastic water bottles), going Vegan (meat is too good for me to stop), or just being more knowledgeable and aware. I do not tell everyone in my cohort enough just how amazing they are.

I realize this transition could have not been easy on my parents. I came close to commuting to a university near my hometown which would have saved me & my parents a lot of money  and student loans. After meeting Dan Gaken and other Leadership staff, my wise older sisters and parents encouraged me to go to CMU because they knew how much I would gain from the Leadership Program. Going from 4 kids living at home, to now an empty house. They have been nothing but supportive. They are always pushing me to do better and improve. My first semester was defenitely a challenge academically which I never faced previously in my schooling. I was surrounded by the support of Dan, my mentor, & many positive LAS’ers  who had high standards & similar interests which made the transition easy. I have learned so much and made the necessary changes to be successful. I can take everything I have learned into the future with me so that I can be and do anything that I put my heart into.
     I have been lucky enough to receive a wonderful mentor; Bellal, and brother; Nate,  volunteer and give back in Detroit, attend leadership conferences where I was inspired, go on weekend retreats where we bonded, listen to amazing speakers, meet the president, and make life long friends. This is only the start of what LAS has offered me. 

Living on campus, I have become a part of Program Board, volunteered around Mt. Pleasant, became an intramural champion in co-ed dodge-ball (with only a team of 6 against all teams of 7),  and lost the championship game of bubble soccer (we should have won if 26 year old nurses didn’t beat us :), fundraising and participating in Relay for Life, which is near to my heart, and all the future opportunities I will have to be involved in.
I was lucky enough to live in a Dorm where we are truly a community. Barnes has given me lifelong friends I will treasure forever, an important support system and many lifelong memories. Warm weather finally hits and everyone goes outside to hangout, do homework, and get a little competitive in volleyball. We stay up late writing blog posts, making cookies for competition day, going on long boarding trips (even though I am not the best), supporting each other, or just simply hanging out.

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Everything I have done in college has improved me as a person and allowed me to grow as a leader. I can’t even imagine my life without having such a strong leader & mentor in Dan and the LI. I now have a passion to make everyone feel special, because you do not know what someone is going through and even just a few kind words could have a positive effect on them. I have improved my facilitation skills which I hope to always keep improving on. My eyes have been opened and I have a new overall compassion as a person. Although Engineering is usually not common as a leadership fulfilling major, I am excited and will strive to become a leader in the field and use my knowledge for the benefit of others.

A true leader understands cultural differences and that every individual they encounter is different and can lead in their own way. If you know what is going on around you, you can be more effectuve in how you lead. I hope I have expressed the positive and life altering affect college has had on me so far. It is hard to put in words how special this place is to me. I am blessed to call it my second home. Most people say they love their college and the opportunities it brings, but I truly mean it. The campus is so inviting, there is a common passion to make a difference, and the focus on the importance of Leadership makes CMU so amazing. I could never write about all of the positive impact CMU & most importantly the LI,  has had on me but I hope you get the scope of it.  I can not wait to see what the future holds.

The Future Roomies. I am ready for the crazy ride we are about to have next year in Emmons with everyone else that is also joining us!

 

 

 

Lead Team: Relay For Life

Every year, freshman and sophomore Leader advancement Scholars are required to be on a LEAD team. LEAD teams are offered by the Leadership Institute and gives us a chance to get involved around campus with our fellow Scholars. Special Olympics, Relay for Life, Competition Day, and LAS in the D are some examples of the teams we can join at the beginning of the year when we fill out a list of our top wanted teams. I was lucky enough to be chosen to the Relay for Life LEAD team. Relay for Life is close to my heart and important to me on a personal level because of the effects cancer has had on my family. My mom is a Breast Cancer survivor and both of my grandparents fought a long, hard battle and passed away from cancer so it is something that I feel strongly about. 

We had to be pretty involved with this LEAD team. We met for meetings on most Mondays throughout the semester. The first thing to do was create a team and start getting donations. A $10 donation was required to join which helped us invest into the team. We set a goal of $1000 but eventually increased it because we exceeded the amount with a couple weeks left before the event. To earn more money we hosted an on campus event and had a Buffalo Wild Wings fundraiser. Our on campus event was “Pie an LI” which was a lot of fun but also raised money for a good cause. I myself got pied in the face which was interesting to say the least but also a ton of fun. We ended up exceeding our goal of earnings which is always a great accomplishment.

The event took place on Saturday, April 9th at the indoor track. Many things were going on during the event with an honoring of survivors early in the event, lip sync battles, and slam poet the Asia Project.  Every table has a game or food that they sell to make money on sight. We chose to sell cold pop and have a trivia type game. The pop was a hit and we earned quite a bit of money. At the end of the event, after we cleaned up all the tables, all of the earnings were added up and all of the teams together raised $55,000 in total. Our team was the second most donated team! Being apart of a LEAD team is a great opportunity to improve on teamwork and have a goal to work for. Teamwork is a vital part of being a good leader and I cannot wait to be apart of another team next year.