VSA Day is an experience you’ll remember
The kids get up early in anticipation of a very special day. It’s a day they’ve been looking forward to for a long time. It’s also a day I’ve enjoyed volunteering at during the last five years.
A couple of times my son, Demetrius, has also volunteered with me for the Very Special Arts (VSA) day when children with disabilities take part in a University of Wisconsin-Madison Badger football game.
On VSA Day at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, about 200 kids who are members of the VSA choir and marching band join the University of Wisconsin marching band during pregame and halftime activities.
We have volunteered in the rain, cold, snow and, on occasion, a beautiful fall day. But no matter the weather, it’s the smiles on the kids’ faces that always make the day beautiful.
Volunteers from American Family and other Madison employers meet at the stadium around 7:30 a.m. on game day to greet the kids as they get off the bus. Some of the kids have traveled from other parts of the state. Each volunteer is assigned one child, and it’s our responsibility to help them with pregame activities, lunch and during the game.
The kids really enjoy the chance to meet Bucky Badger, or even better, former Wisconsin football and NFL player Ron Dayne. When I have the opportunity to introduce the kids to Ron and take their photo with him, it really makes their day — and mine.
When you volunteer for this event, you need to be ready for a very full day. We attend a training session a week or so before the game to help us understand the best way to assist someone who has a disability and the responsibilities of volunteering for this event.
I often help a neighbor at home who is my age and disabled, so I share what I know about volunteering at this event during the training. I also enjoy hearing the stories other volunteers share. This is one event where finding someone to stand in is not easy and could impact one of the kids’ experiences at the game.
It’s gratifying to be a part of VSA Day and it brings a real joy to my heart. Maybe you’ll consider joining me next year.
Editor’s note: Learn more about VSA Wisconsin, an organization offering artistic opportunities to Wisconsin children and adults with disabilities. American Family has sponsored this organization with financial contributions and volunteers for events such as this since 1997.