By Bailey Barnett
Special Olympics Club at Fordham (SO Fordham), a club recently founded at Rose Hill, is starting off its time on campus has finally launched. After a year’s worth of effort, Office of Student Involvement approved the jurisdiction of the club in the fall 2015 semester. Now, SO Fordham is ready to kick off the club’s first annual spirit week, beginning with the Red Out fashion show this Friday.
The Red Out, the club’s largest event of the year, will feature appearances from the New York City chapter of Special Olympics as well as Fordham Athletics and the SO Fordham chapter. Erin Biggins, FCRH ’17, co-president and co-founder of SO Fordham, communicated the organization’s mission and values to the Fordham community.
“The love of sports and athleticism is not defined by the ability or disability one has,” said Biggins.
As a Fordham club, the group also wants to work actively to change Fordham students’ perceptions of disability. “It’s an incredibly fun event for Special Olympic athletes…to promote awareness throughout the Fordham community,” said Victoria Von Ancken, FCRH ’16, co-president and co-founder of Special Olympics Club at Fordham.
SO Fordham hopes that the fashion show will help the young chapter gain recognition and support from the Fordham community and begin to build strong ties with the Special Olympics New York City community, which will receive the proceeds from Red Out ticket sales. The club also anticipates that the Red Out will draw attention for its next event, the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign, a Special Olympics movement to end use of the “r-word.”
“The Red Out is a fantastic opportunity for the Fordham community to integrate with the Special Olympics community and bring attention to the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign,” said Alyssa Dolan, FCRH ’16, co-president and co-founder of Special Olympics Club at Fordham.
Biggins thinks the “r-word” needs to be eradicated because of its harmful effects. “Whether it is used in regular conversation or referring to someone who has a mental disability, we want to demonstrate the importance of maintaining an accepting and inclusive community.”
Following the Red Out, Special Olympics Club at Fordham will launch a social media campaign on Feb. 27 to raise online awareness for Spread the Word to End the Word. Members of the club will change their profile pictures to a Special Olympics graphic accompanied by a short explanation of Spread the Word to End the Word’s mission and a request that their friends do the same. On Feb. 29, Special Olympics Club at Fordham will debut its Spread the Word to End the Word Pledge video, which showcases members of the Fordham community sharing why they are pledging not to use the “r-word.” The pledge video will also be shown on screens around campus.
If students make a pledge, they can visit the McGinley lobby on March 1 and write out their pledge on slips of paper that will be hung around Edward’s Parade on March 2, National Spread the Word to End the Word Pledge Day. Students can also buy a red “PLEDGE to End the Word” long-sleeved shirt as a fundraiser for Special Olympics for $10. To finish off its Spirit Week, SO Fordham will host a Wear Red for Awareness Day March 4.
Jamie Toto, FCRH ’17, co-president and co-founder of Special Olympics Club at Fordham, said that the spirit week will be a good way for the club to start expanding its membership on campus and building its relationship with the local Special Olympics athletes. “It is a great opportunity to get the Fordham community involved with a fabulous organization,” said Toto.
Tickets to the Red Out will be available for five dollars in the McGinley Lobby from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Feb. 23 and 24 and at the door on Feb. 26. The show will start at 6 p.m. in McGinley Ballroom.