Carly Anderson, Connors State College
Carly Anderson, a student at Connors State College, is an exceptional leader and advocate for students with special needs. She saw a need for her special needs friends to interact with their peers and have a level of social acceptance in an area deemed essential – athletics. Many classmates would beg to play sports only to be told they were not allowed. Carly is extremely determined and found the support she needed to hold her first “Carly’s Champions for Life Day Camp.” Her passion and exceptional leadership skills created a level of engagement and commitment from volunteers at her high school and Connors State College and garnered numerous donations from community businesses to host a gymnasium full of special needs student athletes. Her potential for inspiring others and creating a continuing program is to be admired and respected. Carly will continue to grow and cultivate a spirit of community engagement at her higher education institutions, her workplace, and her community. She will create champions in the many lives she comes in contact with, not only the special needs people she has a heart for, but also the volunteers she engages.
-Tim Faltyn, President
Some people talk about doing something, and others “do” something about it. I have a friend who is autistic and strongly desires to play team sports each time a new season begins. I decided other students with special needs surely felt the same and founded Carly’s “Champions for Life” Day Camp.
I approached area businesses and asked for donations and then came up with a budget for the day camp. I wanted each camper to have a t-shirt, a medal, and a drawstring bag. I involved my college, Connors State College, and they provided the drawstring bags and sent ambassadors from all student organizations to help cheer on the campers while they played the different sports such as basketball, kickball, and soccer. I coordinated with members of my local school organizations and my school’s faculty to assist with the camp. I delegated duties of coaching, being in charge of games, and assisting with lunch.
The day was a success, and the students had such fun while some even were sad to leave. My hope is for this day camp to be an annual event because there is a need for these children to have their day of fun and accomplishment!