High school students from throughout Genesee County were at the Genesee ARC building on Woodrow Road, Batavia, this evening learning about being volunteers for the upcoming Challenge Soccer season.
The Challenger program gives youngsters with developmental disabilities an opportunity to participate in sporting events.
Organizer Shelley Falitico explained the history of the program, what volunteers do and taught the students a little bit about what it's like to deal with a disability.
As a demonstration, she placed a student in a wheelchair and told him he could use only one arm. She then required a normally talkative student to wear a mask and told him he couldn't talk and had several students wear eye covers so they couldn't see. The student in the wheelchair then had to try to distribute a brochure about Genesee ARC.
Falitico pointed out all the ways in which the students' natural reactions to having their abilities limited in this manner is much like what it is for some of the youngsters they will deal with as part of Challenger.
The students participating include a group from the Pembroke soccer team, who were there to "pay it forward."
Two seasons ago, the team was reinstated, but players were required to raise their own funds to pay for their participation. As players and parents were working on fundraising, two Pembroke borthers, Howard and Michael Oriole, came forward and for the 2011 and 2012 seasons paid all of the team's costs.
"We obviously felt blessed and honored," said one of the mothers of the players, Lynette McGiveron. "We didn't know what to say."
Since the brothers both have disabilities, reaching out to Genesee ARC for a volunteer opportunity seemed like an appropriate way for the soccer players to give back to the community.
"We were obviously very grateful and we just felt the need to pay it forward," McGiveron said.