As a result of constantly doing service throughout high school I found an organization that helped me find myself while reaching out and helping others. For many years I volunteered for a group called challenger buddies. This is an organization started in New Jersey but now throughout the entire United States attempting to govern or create leagues for the disabled. The goal of this group is to help those who are mentally and physically disabled play sports and network with other kids in the area to try to make friends.
Just as the Jesuits believed, and we strive to represent here every day at Loyola, it became a way for me of living and acting for others. With a mission revolved around the development of the whole person the experiences I had working with each of these young kids taught me more then what I had previously learned just inside the classroom. Putting lessons that I had until that time never practiced other then in school and church volunteer activities allowed me to mature and evolve as person. Adding to a whole different side of my personality and gaining interests in teaching young children and helping those less fortunate than I.
In detail, the challenger buddy program that I participated in are athletically based events designed to offer socialization through the participation in sports for the mentally disabled with non disabled peers. All of the volunteers, like me, are student athletes that try to share their love for a specific sport with all of the participants. My favorite and the season that I participated in the most was in the winter, usually there would be about 100 participants joining to play basketball on every Saturday morning. I made this a weekend ritual for me, while playing varsity basketball every day for almost four years this break allowed me to realize how blessed I truly was, as well as put the fun and joy back in the game I would sometimes take for granted. I found through the roles of offering my buddies or participants encouragement, guidance, and assistance each one of the young kids I worked with became a friend. Finding ways to get through to some of the girls and boys were a challenge for me but witnessing one of my players make their first basket or win their first game is a feeling I hope to hold close to my heart forever. Their happiness became a reality check for me that made all of those challenges minuscule compared to the accomplishment I helped these kids feel. When each winter season was over I had the chance to reflect and evaluate not only on what I had learned but the kind of aspects I wanted to change in my life thanks to these kids. Each one taught me a way of selfless living, compassion, and trust in the people around me.
Challenger Buddy will always be one of the most important ways I educated myself in my constant attempt to become a better person. While here at Loyola I am hoping to work with children, just like challenger buddy because it has become a real passion of mine. Through St. Mary’s tutoring and any other events possible I would love to add a helping hand in bettering the youth in the Baltimore community.