FunDay serves up smiles

Just hours before Valentine’s Day, special guests at the University of Miami will be treated to a busy day of activities and greeted by the smiling faces of hundreds of Hurricanes.

For FunDay 2010, over 400 “special citizens” will be coming to the university for a field day and a number of playful activities as they interact with about 700 student volunteers. This year, however, the 13-member executive board has planned new events that will give the event a unique spin.

“[It’s] unique because it is for the special citizens, and students get to have fun while volunteering and experiencing life from a different perspective,” said senior Justina Martynaityte, a co-chair of FunDay. “[The event] is significant to me since I have been working with special citizens since high school and find that volunteering with them is the most rewarding to me at the end of the day.”

Among the event’s featured sponsors are Chartwells, who will be hosting a catered barbecue for the guests and participants, the UM and Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Relation Disabilities and several Greek organizations.

“It is the longest student-run organization on campus,” said junior Mike Young, also a co-chair of the event. “It is unlike any other because it creates a day totally dedicated to giving back to those that are mentally and physically disabled.”

In years past, FunDay has featured themes like superheroes and Walt Disney. This year, the theme is based on a carnival. The theme determines what kinds of activities will take place at the event. For example, for the superhero theme, FunDay hosted a cape-making contest for each of the visiting guests.

“FunDay was definitely a great experience for me,” said junior Shaun Calnan, a FunDay volunteer from last year. “I had a blast meeting the guests and other UM students. I feel like the student has just as much fun as the guests.”

To participate, students need only be present at the Rock on Saturday morning at 9 a.m., to register. Special citizens will then be accompanied by groups of volunteers that will escort them to different activity stations throughout campus.

“I can’t describe how wonderful it feels to see all the joy that this day truly brings to these people,” Young said.

Ramon Galiana may be contacted at