Bullis students sign up for “Bullis Gives Back.”
"Stepping Towards a Better Future — Come Run … Come Walk … Come Change a Life" is the theme of the 7th annual “Bullis Gives Back” 5K Run/Walk and Buddy Run — a theme that Bullis students embrace through doing.
Students from Bullis are paired with a developmentally or physically challenged buddy from The Diener School or from Kids Enjoying Exercise Now (KEEN). Many of these pairings blossom into friendships — and the Bullis students do “change a life” through making their new buddy feel accepted, appreciated and encouraged.
Lois McCabe, Head of School at The Diener School, said, “We look at our students’ social and academic needs while building self-esteem for them to feel empowered about the future. Having Bullis students work and play with our kids is an important opportunity for friendships and new experiences. The heart of Diener is seeing the pride on our student’s faces when they feel socially confident and academically successful.”
The “Bullis Gives Back” run will take place on Sunday, May 3, beginning at 8:30 a.m. The event will feature a cross-country 5K course, and 2.5K walk, music, food, carnival games, and a 400-meter wheelchair accessible track run and inflatable obstacle course for the special athletes. Last year’s race attracted 1,100 participants and raised $45,000. Event organizers Barbara Guterman and Michelle Benaim are hoping for an even bigger crowd this year. “Every year the race continues to grow and we can make a bigger impact with our donations. This year, 100 percent of our funds will be shared among KEEN, The Diener School, Habitat for Humanity, and the Bullis Student Activity Fund for Education (SAFE) — a fund that covers student activity fees and textbooks for Bullis students in need,” said Benaim.
“Bullis has the largest number of students on scholarship of any private school in our area,” said Guterman. “Whenever a student can’t afford textbooks or activity fees, SAFE will provide payment. Therefore, every student can attend an event or purchase his/her books.”
Fifth graders Demi Fragoyannis and Jillian Cohen were signing up for “Bullis Gives Back.” Demi said, “I liking helping the student that I’m paired with and seeing him or her have a lot of fun.” Jillian said, “I feel good about raising money to help others.”
“Bullis is a school of opportunity – and opportunity includes helping others,” said Guterman. “Kids Helping Kids” benefits all the youths. KEEN and Bullis students have a year-long relationship in which they do activities together twice a month and students at The Diener School have permanent Bullis buddies. Bullis will be collecting new and gently used soccer balls and cleats for KEEN at this year’s run.
Robyn MacKenzie and Gabrielle Whittleton designed this year’s race logo. They decided to keep the heart from past years’ logos because “the race is the heart of Bullis.”
“The day is a wonderful family activity day,” said Benaim. “We will have free ice cream provided by Friends and Farms. Bullis students will team up with their buddies and help them through the inflatable obstacle course and Bullis athletes will be playing lacrosse, track, softball and baseball with younger children. Other activities will include pony rides, face painting, tattoos, inflatable slides and more.”
Beata Okulska, executive director, KEEN Greater DC, said of the 2014 event: “It was delightful to watch how attentive and caring the Bullis buddies were. They gave all their attention to the KEEN athletes throughout the event; they were patient, thoughtful and kind to everyone. They took our special needs kids by the hand or pushed their wheelchairs across the finish line with pride. They were all winners. It was an unforgettable event that brought lots of smiles and joy to all participants.”buddies were. They gave all their attention to the KEEN athl
To register on-line, go to www.bullis.org. Bullis students are $10 and general registration is $30. Diener and KEEN athletes are free. Sponsorships are also available on the website.