Newswise — During the first week of spring semester, a group of Swarthmore students used putt-putt golf and animal fun to help raise close to $11,000 for local persons with disabilities.

Students from Swarthmore's Global Neighbors club partnered with CADES, a local school for children, adolescents, and adults with special needs, and local volunteers to organize the third annual Putt Putt Palooza on January 28. In three years, the event, which began as a Strath Haven (Pa.) Middle School eighth grade service project, has raised a total of $29,000 for CADES.

This year, Putt Putt Palooza featured 18 zoo-themed mini golf holes designed by local families, businesses, and students. Players were greeted by Kyle Campbell ’19, a classical studies and biology major from Plymouth Meeting, Pa., who was dressed up as a friendly giraffe to match the zoo theme.

“This was our first year building one of the courses,” says Sarah Solomon ’19, a psychology major from Rockville, Md., and co-president of Global Neighbors. “Previously, we only helped run the event as volunteers. Once I became co-president, I decided I wanted us to build one of the courses and not just volunteer. I plan to have the club continue to do this and I hope even when I graduate, the club will still build one of the courses.”

Solomon began volunteering at CADES her freshman year in order to become involved in the community and learned about Global Neighbors not long afterward. She now runs the club with co-president Shivani Gupta ’19, an Honors economics major from Princeton Junction, N.J.; events coordinator Ayaka Yorihiro ’20, of Harrison, N.Y.; CADES coordinator Runa (Yan) Cheng ’20, of Fremont, Calif.; and secretary Wendy Tan ’19, a neuroscience major from Malvern, Pa.

According to local volunteer Anne Merz, this year's Putt Putt Palooza was a success, drawing more than 400 players of all ages, with the money raised going toward communication technology for non-verbal students who attend CADES.

College community members who would like contribute to next year’s Putt Putt Palooza by volunteering or creating a golf hole can contact Joy Karsner at CADES at 610-328-5955.

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