Written by: Correspondent Gary Curreri, South Florida Sun Sentinel
Minnie Rosenblum, center, presents a check to Special Olympics representatives Michelle Leonardo and Greg Mingo. She raised $4,500 in the inaugural Minnie’s Birdies for Buddies golf tournament. (Kerry Phillips/Courtesy)
Minnie Rosenblum calls it just the beginning. The 15-year-old Weston teen recently staged a “Minnie’s Birdies for Buddies” golf tournament that raised $4,500 for Special Olympics Florida.
Her first golf tournament consisted of Special Olympics golfers who were paired with high school students who Rosenblum recruited from Belen Jesuit Prep School and Carrollton School in Miami and University School in Davie, where she is a sophomore and member of the school’s golf team.
The golf tournament enabled children and adults with special needs to play golf to their ability and be partnered with someone whose ability and knowledge of golf was more advanced.
“This is just the beginning of what I plan to continue to do in the future,” Rosenblum said. “I want this event to grow and want to be able to create my own organization in the future to further my impact on the community and develop a more integrated community.”
A total of 32 golfers took part in the alternate shot format. She raised money by spreading the message and the word.
“I was able to reach out to people that were interested in supporting this event and everything that it stood for,” Rosenblum said.
She developed a love for golf at age 8, and after becoming a member of the Best Buddies chapter at University School two years ago, found a way to pair both together. While working with Best Buddies, she was able to get involved with Special Olympics.
The volunteer organization was created to provide opportunities for one-to-one friendships and leadership for people with intellectual disabilities. Rosenblum serves as president and was re-elected as its president for next year.
While she has participated in many parties and fundraisers for the special needs organizations, she decided she wanted to create her own organization and special event for golfers with intellectual disabilities.
“There just aren’t a lot of opportunities for Special Olympics golfers to play,” she said. “The players really enjoyed their time together. It gave them a chance to truly get to know each other through a shared interest.”
The Trump National Doral agreed to host the “Minnie’s Birdies for Buddies” event and Rosenblum began an earnest fundraising effort on behalf of Special Olympics Florida – Broward County.
This is the first time she tackled fundraising of this scale and quickly gained confidence learning to approach local business people to ask for donations.
“Minnie’s Birdies for Buddies” golf tournaments will become a regular event.
“Fortunately, I have been re-elected as president and will continue to grow these organizations,” Rosenblum said. “I always practice and spread the ideologies and the messages that both these organizations spread and I joined another organization, which is Friendship Circle. Having all of this experience and knowledge, I sought out the people at Special Olympics Florida and was able to create this event.”
Rosenblum said the effort was gratifying.
“Working with special needs kids and being able to create an environment that is more accepting and integrated is one of my favorite parts about doing things like this,” she said. “I have taken part in so many different organizations for special needs kids and every single event that I would do I would feel so rewarded and so good about what I was doing.
“After seeing how I can make an impact on the community,” she said, “I wanted to combine my love for golf and my love for helping other people and create an event where athletes and volunteers can have a great time and create special memories.”