Engineering Alumni Network will volunteer with Special Olympics for years to come

By Julianne Heberlein

The Engineering Alumni Network plans to continue volunteering at a Special Olympics bowling competition in Gaithersburg every year.

A group of volunteers from the Engineering Alumni Network volunteered at a bowling competition in Gaithersburg hosted by the Special Olympics of Maryland in November. Volunteers assisted as scorekeepers, lane marshals, awards and with managing logistics.

The network’s Alumni Coordinator Richard Bloom graduated in 1965 with a degree in electrical engineering. Bloom organized last year’s event and decided to coordinate it again this year. He plans to continue coordinating the volunteer event in the future. His role included advertising to recruit volunteers and ensuring volunteers understood what to do.

“I have friends whose children work with special needs kids, so I’m aware of the Special Olympics and their importance,” said Bloom. “I thought it’d be a great idea for the network to get involved and support it.”

There were about 20 teams at the competition, with four to five teammates in each lane. Each volunteer assisted one lane. The Special Olympics of Maryland hosted four regional bowling competitions in Gaithersburg, Ellicott City, Frederick and Glen Burnie.

Matt Leidich graduated with a degree in chemical engineering in 2012 and volunteered at the event. His job was to ensure everything was running smoothly in his designated lane. He previously volunteered with the Special Olympics in middle school and high school.

“My favorite part was how excited everyone was for the athletes,” said Leidich. “There was a lot of comradery with high-fiving all around. It didn’t have the competition vibe, and everyone was having a good time.”

Sophomore mechanical engineering major Rohit Mandavia said he would volunteer at a similar event when he becomes an alumnus.

“It’s a great way to increase alumni activity, while also creating a stronger bond between UMD and its community,” said Mandavia.

For Bloom, the best part of the event was seeing the kids’ happiness.

“All of the kids got some kind of award, regardless of how they bowled,” said Bloom. “They really take pride and shine when they received an award. To see them smile, be happy and be recognized was the best.”

The Engineering Alumni Network helps organize and fund activities to provide engagement opportunities for alumni, connect alumni with current students and faculty, maintain support for the Clark School of Engineering and advocate for the university.

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