By Travis Drobbin
The Pike Rutgers Outreach Program (PROP’s) can be best summed up with one word: inspiring. That is because it shows what a group of people can do when they put their minds to bettering the community. The organization was founded to teach mentally and physically challenged kids to play sports, as well as to have an overall fun day. This goal has attracted many members to the student group’s quickly growing roster.
“People have been very interested in what we are doing with PROP’s. When people see a good opportunity to help the less fortunate, they jump at the chance,” said John Eibelheuser, 20, a Rutgers sophomore and the president of the organization. PROP’s was recognized by Rutgers as an organization in the beginning of the 2008/2009 academic year. The organization took part in Cook College’s Special Friends Day, which occurred on March 1.
Sponsored by a number of campus organizations, Special Friends Day is an event held on Cook Campus, which children with mental disabilities partake in different activities with 100 Rutgers students’ assistance. PROP’s came out in full force, with a number of dedicated volunteers. The organization had a table set up were they organized soccer games with the kids, and as a prize the children got a temporary tattoo. The children really took to the temporary tattoos and came back numerous times to the table. Everyone was very pleased with the introduction of the organization to the Rutgers community. The most appreciative of the people were the parents of the children. These parents saw their children experience a day of nothing but fun.
The Pike Rutgers Outreach Program started because of one individual. John Eiebelheuser felt the need to bring a program to Rutgers that would bring a positive addition to the community. “I figured that it would be great having just pledged a fraternity to bring something positive to the Greek community at Rutgers. I thought that my personal fraternity would find this organization not only beneficial to the reputation of the fraternity, but it would also give fulfillment to the members involved,” Eibelheuser said. PROP’s was started from an organization called Hunterdon Outreach Program (HOP’s). Eibelheuser was a volunteer for HOP’s and felt it was the perfect sort of organization to bring to the Rutgers community. The Hunterdon Outreach Program, started in Hunterdon County in the spring of 2003, serves to promote and develop different sports for children in the community who are physically or developmentally disabled. Eibelheuser wanted to bring the same mentality to the Rutgers organization.
“When I was part of the Hunterdon Outreach Program, I realized that the kids were having a genuinely good time. But even more than the kids, the volunteers were enjoying themselves. They all felt a sense of fulfillment after the event,” Eibelheuser stated. HOP’s programs currently include soccer, basketball, baseball, and tennis. They strive to introduce kids to new sports that they would normally not be recruited to participate in.
PROP’s has big plans for the future; it plans to schedule one more event before the semester is over. “We want to have a carnival in Buccleuch Park, where the kids can enjoy the nice weather and enjoy the activities we have set up,” said Eibelheuser. The organization seems to be taking a positive step forward in achieving their goal of having an event every two weeks. Next year seems to be the time when the organization really makes a push to become one of the more influential programs on the Rutgers campus.
Travis Drobbin is a Journalism and Media Studies major at Rutgers University. He plans to work in the film and music industry.