New show connects students, volunteers

Christina Amoroso

After holding awareness-raising events at Unicorn Cafe, 1723 Sherman Ave., in years past, Special Olympics members wanted a new way to bring together athletes and Northwestern students in the week leading up to the group’s main track-and-field event this Sunday.

About 30 Special Olympics board members and athletes showed up Monday night at the group’s first variety show, held in Fisk Hall. The show began with a dance performance from two members of BLAST, followed by dancing from three Deeva Dance Troupe members.

Large-Scale Events Co-Chairwoman Kara Murphy said Special Olympics members “wanted to think of a new, creative idea to incorporate student dance groups for the enjoyment of the athletes.”

After a brief introduction to the audience about their group, the BLAST members danced to Frank Sinatra’s “I Get a Kick Out of You.” The couple improvised swing moves throughout the song. The pair also danced a country two-step to a Shania Twain song and at the end got the audience to clap along.

The three members of Deeva then took the stage, dancing to a variety of songs, including Michael Jackson’s “Black or White,” Missy Elliott’s “Lose Control” and a song from the Indian movie “Dus.”

One goal of the event was to get NU students to come and interact with the athletes, said Murphy, a Weinberg senior.

“It’s an exciting time for the athletes as they prepare for the games,” she said.

Special Olympics athletes said they enjoyed the variety show.

“I wish there could have been more performances, but the show was excellent,” said 37-year-old Steve Spector, an athlete in this weekend’s games.

To build interest in the games, events will be held each night this week, including a bar night Thursday at 1800 Club, 1800 Sherman Ave., Murphy said. Another objective of the events is to recruit people to volunteer for Sunday’s track and field event. On Monday, about 60 volunteers had signed up, but members said they hope to have 200 volunteers by the end of the week.

As of Monday, Special Olympics had raised about $10,000 towards the group’s fundraising goal of $15,000, Finance Co-Chairwoman Amanda Miller said. A 5K run held on Saturday raised about $1,000, the Weinberg junior said. The group hopes to raise more money this week from the bar night and from canning at local grocery stores after the main event.

Murphy said she hopes the group will have the variety show again next year with a larger range of groups. She said the Special Olympics committee didn’t expect a large turnout because the show was only publicized Monday. Most audience members were athletes who are performing in this weekend’s games.

“We’re really happy with the athlete turnout,” Murphy said. “They really enjoy coming to the Northwestern events.”

Reach Christina Amoroso at [email protected]