Last Friday night, Nazareth Academy’s National Honor Society hosted Athletes Helping Athletes, an organization that offers a place for special-needs athletes to fulfill their desire to participate in sports.
The students at Nazareth Academy High School take great pride in their numerous outreach events and just added another event to their repertoire last week.
Last Friday night, Nazareth Academy’s National Honor Society hosted the Athletes Helping Athletes Organization for a night of sports, games and other activities.
Athletes Helping Athletes, founded in 2001, has provided funding to special-needs organizations in the area and offers a place for the “special needs athlete to fulfill their desire to participate in sports” The organization hosts events at various local high schools throughout the area.
The students at Nazareth Academy have been talking about hosting Athletes Helping Athletes for years, but finally hosted their first event with AHA this past week.
Seniors Nikki Koval and Elizabeth Greubel, who have participated in various Athletes Helping Athletes events over the years, led the charge to bringing it to their own school. NHS at Nazareth Academy is responsible for coordinating and participating in at least one service project each year. Greubel, on the leadership team for National Honor Society, wasn’t too fond of the outcome of their previous service project.
“Our first service project didn’t really work out,” Greubel said.
The girls in the group knew they were capable of hosting a successful service project and a couple of months ago decided to put this plan into motion by hosting Athletes Helping Athletes.
Kerstin Greenewald, math teacher at Nazareth Academy, was ecstatic when NHS approached her to help coordinate the event.
Greenewald has been a moderator of Athletes Helping Athletes for years. She has been responsible for calling girls to go volunteer at other high school and coordinate herself, but when the opportunity finally arose to host it at the school she has taught at for over a decade, she knew it was an easy decision.
“My daughter has special needs, so it’s close to my heart. She actually has been involved with Athletes Helping Athletes, probably, for like the past eight or nine years at this point,” said Greenewald. “So because of that, I brought it to Nazareth. I thought it would be a great thing for our girls to go and volunteer at.”
For months, members of NHS and certain faculty members coordinated with those at Athletes Helping Athletes Inc. to design a plan of running an event there for a Friday night. The girls raised money for it by holding a dress down day in school, with the money going toward paying for pizza, pretzels and various crafts for the night of the event.
Approximately 70 volunteers, mostly from Nazareth, and 30 athletes lined up in the gymnasium at Nazareth Academy to participate in a wide variety of sports and activities. There were various stations set up that would allow each athlete to participate in games with the volunteers.
Athletes were able to shoot some hoops, play “duck, duck, goose,” dance while a DJ was playing music, and participate in other activities during the 1 hour and 30 minute event.
As the event concluded, the athletes and volunteers joined together at center court for a group picture.
As the volunteers were cleaning up each station, they couldn’t help but beam with joy on how the night went.
Koval, president of Nazareth Academy’s Chapter of Athletes Helping Athletes, has participated in many of AHA’s events and talked about what was her favorite aspect of the night once again.
“Hanging out with the kids is by far the best part,” said Koval. “Just seeing them smile and laugh and dance to the music and all that, they love it.”
Greenewald was overjoyed at the outcome of the event and was at a loss of words.
“Words can’t describe how happy I am tonight that we had it here,” Greenewald said. “It’s something that some of the students in the past have been asking about having here, but it never kind of like came into fruition, we maybe ran out of time during the school year….just having it here has just been unbelievable.”
Greenewald said she spoke with principal Sister Rita Fanning immediately after the event and already concluded that the school will be sure to host this event next year as well.••
John Cole can be reached at JCole@bsmphilly.com