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Staples Skating Fundraiser Aims to Break the Ice

If you've ever wondered what it would be like to ride on a Zamboni, you can find out Saturday at the first-ever Best Buddies Ice Skating Day, a fundraiser created by Staples High School juniors Sami Schwaeber and Callie Loparo.

The event will be held at the PAL ice rink at Longshore Club Park from noon to 5 p.m. and will benefit the Staples chapter of Best Buddies , an international nonprofit that creates one-to-one friendships and employment opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

"There's going to be a bake sale, hot chocolate, a silent auction and a raffle offering Zamboni rides," said Callie, a member of Best Buddies since her sophomore year. "It's going to be a very comfortable, relaxing event where everyone is welcome."

Although most of the proceeds will go directly to support the club, some will go toward the annual Buddy Ball. Similar to prom, the ball, which will be held at Staples in April, is attended by special needs students from all over Fairfield County, said Sami, executive director of the chapter.

And while the goal of Saturday's event is to raise money, Sami said raising awareness and educating people is another goal.

"We want people to know that we do exist in Westport, Connecticut," said Sami, who joined Best Buddies as a freshman. "Not only do we want to get our name out there, we want to reach out to younger students and give them something to look forward to being a part of when they come to Staples."

In addition to educating the community about the work of Best Buddies, Callie said she hopes the event will promote acceptance.

"We want to bring everyone in the community together and create an environment where people accept each other for who they are," Callie said. "No one should be looked at for being different, because we are all different in our own ways."

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