This year the volunteer student organization Rutgers Recreation Team REC will host the 22nd annual Special Friends Day on Mar. 30 at the Cook/Douglass Recreation Center, from noon to 4:30 p.m. Approximately 100 children with developmental disabilities who were specially invited to the annual event, will participate in a fun-filled day of games, sports, swimming, arts and crafts, petting zoo and other activities. Each child is paired with two Rutgers students who will be their buddies for the day. Special Friends Day has been putting a smile on hundreds of faces for over two decades and the sponsors hope to continue the tradition of “genuine happiness” at this year’s Special Friends Day, which is themed “Medieval Times.”
Mike Baldino, a senior at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, has been on the planning committee for this event three years in a row. Baldino describes Special Friends Day as “the opportunity for a couple hundred college students to put a smile on the faces of 100 children with special needs.”
Not only does the event create indelible memories for the children, Special Friends Day has a lasting effect on the student volunteers, as well. Baldino describes the impact the event has had on him. “It has been the most fun and rewarding aspect of my Rutgers career and I can’t describe in words the feeling that you get when a child or parent hugs you and thanks you at the end of the day.”
“Personally, Special Friends Day has been year-in and year-out my favorite day of the year,” he adds.
Students can volunteer to be “buddies for the day” at the SFD ’14 Buddy Registration. Also student organizations can sign up for a table at the event at SFD ’14 Student Organization Registration. This year the event is being co-sponsored by Rutgers University Programming Association (RUPA).