For a large number of Saint Anselm students, this past Sunday consisted of jumping rope, bowling, and three-legged races. Amidst all the excitement, there was one common cause drawing nearly 250 people, mostly comprised of Saint Anselm students, to the Carr Center for the day: a promise to a boy named Nicholas.
Through the Meelia Center for Community Service, and the dedication of a core group of student volunteers, Saint Anselm College held its first Decathlon to Battle Batten Disease. A rare and currently incurable genetic disorder, Battens Disease affects an estimated two to four in every 100, 000 children born in the United States.
Each team that participated was required to raise a minimum of $100, all the proceeds going towards a fundraising campaign entitled Our Promise to Nicholas, started by a family in Bedford. The goal is to create partnerships in order to promote awareness and fund research for a cure for Batten Disease, which their son Nicholas was diagnosed with at age five.
Participating in a series of ten events, teams exuded energy and enthusiasm while competing in soccer, hockey, a relay, triple jump, jump rope, a three-legged race, basketball, bowling, softball and balloon tosses, and finishing with a bonus round of trivia. The team accumulating the most points would ultimately win the decathlon.
“Its fun to compete with the other teams and rack up some points but the reason we’ve all gathered together today is to help raise awareness,” said Andrea Vaillancourt, a senior nursing major, who began babysitting for Nicholas previous to his diagnosis. Vaillancourt and a fellow senior nursing major and babysitter Lindsey Mooney, helped connect Nicholas’ family with the college. Their passion was evident as they discussed hopes for the decathlon to become an annual event.
Caitlin Stromberg’11, one of the organizers of the event, said “it’s been very successful so far, we have already passed our initial fund raising goal.” Stromberg, Stephanie Luckern’10, Craig Hooper’12, and Caitlyn Eaton’ 12 were the dedicated team, with a number volunteers, that made the event happen, arriving as early as 6:30 that morning to set up. “It was a lot of planning and figuring out logistics but it’s definitely been worth it, and I can’t wait to meet Nicholas!” Stromberg said of his anticipated arrival later that day.
The teams, initially divided men’s, women’s, and co-ed divisions, reconvened in the afternoon for the final balloon toss event and to meet Nicholas, whom students took turns shooting hoops and playing soccer with. Allie Forbes’ 11, said “I didn’t know anything about Battens but I did some research and I was glad to be able to participate. It was a great time.”
For more information, visit www.OurPromiseToNicholas.com
Photo 1: Women's Ice Hockey Team Jumping Rope
Photo 2: Sean Leonard' 10 with Nicholas
More photos from the decathlon can be found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/saintanselm.