Beta Club is on fire: Comets serve Special Olympics athletes

Published 10:27 am Tuesday, December 24, 2019


LAPLACE — Just before Christmas break, members of the St. Charles Catholic Beta Club gathered in between exams and formed an assembly line to wrap presents that teachers had purchased for their friends and families.

The same group of students picked names from a raffle of faculty and staff members who donated to a recent iGiveCatholic fundraising event. The lucky winners received a Christmas classroom makeover courtesy of the Beta Club, complete with string lights, a snowman door display and a Santa Claus chair.

Those are only a few examples of how SCC’s Beta Club is finding innovative ways to get involved in their school and community. The group is led by president Collin Cedotal, vice president Kelly Campbell and secretary Marcus Forest. Sponsors Suzy Bologna and Shawn Madere are also a big factor in keeping St. Charles Catholic’s Beta Club a successful organization, according to Principal Dr. Courtney P. Millet.

Members of the SCC Beta Club

Bologna said the Beta Club is “on fire” this year when it comes to demonstrating leadership through service. The club focuses primarily on giving back to the community, and the biggest projects involve working with the Special Olympics.

The partnership with the Special Olympics traces back eight years, according to Bologna. In August, Beta Club members help run an annual swim meet that takes place in Luling. In the spring, they assist in the annual track meet that takes place in Destrehan.

For the past seven years, the Beta Club has hosted the Cookies With Claus event in December, allowing Special Olympics athletes to decorate cookies, create ornaments, write Christmas letters and meet Santa Claus.

During his visit, Santa reads the athletes a story and takes pictures with each of them after collecting their Christmas lists. The Beta Club members enjoy spending time with the athletes while preparing for Christmas.

Beta Club president Collin Cedotal said every Special Olympics athlete was paired with a St. Charles Catholic student.

“I just love the Special Olympics in general,” Cedotal said. “I enjoy doing the swim meet with them in August. It’s fun to see them getting involved and being so happy to compete against their friends.”

Bologna said the hands-on service project gives the Beta Club students a real life understanding of both the Special Olympics athletes and their parents. They learn to appreciate and celebrate differences while recognizing that not everyone’s path in life looks like their own.

The next Beta Club event will take place in the spring. Students will host a “Bocce Bash” where they will learn how to play bocce ball, an adaptive sport that contributes to physical and social development in Special Olympics athletes.

Grade levels will compete against each other in the Bocce Bash. By the end, students will be prepared to volunteer for the Special Olympics track and field meet on May 7.

Beta Club member Yvette Aguirre said it is important for upperclassmen to set a good example for the underclassmen at St. Charles Catholic.

“It gets a lot of students involved and interested,” Aguirre said. “When younger kids come, they can see the older kids doing a lot of service, and they can be inspired to do service, too. A lot of the eighth graders see seniors involved in service opportunities, and they want to do the same thing.”

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