For the past month, SUNY Oneonta has been a part of the NCAA Division III Special Olympics Spotlight Poll in which users log on to the NCAA’s Special Olympics website and vote for the Special Olympics fundraising event they would like to win $500.

The students at SUNY Oneonta created and ran Athletes vs. Greek Life Olympics, held on April 21. They hope to win the spotlight poll to continue to grow for next year's event. Voting ends at 10 p.m. June 25.

Athletes vs. Greek Life has students on campus team up to participate in “Olympic” events such as potato sack races, tug-of-war and a whipped-cream pie-eating contest in the Alumni Field House on campus.

Sophomore softball player Nicole Brieva was inspired to create and organize the event after a friend told her about something similar held at Syracuse University. Brieva thought that Oneonta could do the same by getting the two largest student organizations on campus to participate.

“I wanted to create something bigger than anyone had done before,” Brieva said. “I was thinking, our Greek life does so much and so does our athletes but we don’t do anything together, and I was thinking how much can we actually raise if you put these two groups together for the same cause?”

Spectators of the event paid $3 at the door, and in total, Athletes vs. Greek raised more than $800 for the Special Olympics organization. Brieva said the best part of the event wasn't just making all the money for the cause, but the fun everyone had that participated.

The groups had already planned on holding the event next year in both the fall and spring semesters, but the funding SUNY Oneonta could earn from the poll will help to make their goals even more of a reality.

“I definitely thing we could get more of the community involved,” she said. “We could do this whole thing outside and put some even bigger events into this. If we could get money to advertise, we could get the whole community involved and maybe even get Hartwick College involved as well. This could be bigger than anybody had ever imagined.”

Brieva said it is her and the University's goal to become more deeply involved with the Special Olympics organization. SUNY Oneonta is currently virtually even with Johnson and Wales University, each holding 47 percent of the overall vote.

“Our school really does want to help; we constantly try to be involved with the Special Olympics in every way that we can," Brieva said. “We’ve been trying to get (Special Olympians) to some of our games and everything. We’re definitely looking to hang out with these Olympians and show them how much we admire them.”