Their chances of catching up to their opponents were slim to none, yet Perfect Sense employee Yash Trevedi and his teammate, Special Olympics athlete Tyler Lagasse, hadn’t given up just yet. Down two holes going into the seventh, they were cautiously optimistic about catching up to their competition on the Stripes team. Then, after a little pep talk and preparation, the unthinkable happened. The underdog Stars team ended up winning the next three holes, clinching their match and holding off a charge from the Stripes.
The greens at the Club at Creighton Farms in Aldie, Virginia was peppered with grey, red, blue, and white polo shirts this past week, as men and women from around the country came together to play a friendly golf competition. Differences might have brought this group of teenagers, wounded veterans, and individuals with intellectual disabilities together, yet the Stars and Stripes teams quickly discovered that they shared a common goal: unifying and inspiring those around them.
This is the simple objective of Perfect Sense’s annual Unified Challenge: to bridge the gap between differences and cultivate meaningful relationships with new friends from many backgrounds. Through the various events offered during this memorable week, participants create meaningful connections, all while having a great deal of fun.
The Unified Challenge incorporates the essence of Perfect Sense’s overarching mission into activities which present knowledge and fun opportunities for its participants. A total of 48 players participated in the 7th Annual Unified Challenge,18 youth coming from The First Tee, 12 wounded veterans from across the country, 12 Special Olympics athletes, and 6 Perfect Sense employees and partners.
Upon arrival on Sunday, the group was welcomed by a picnic and team-building exercises. The next day, participants visited D.C., where they toured the Capitol, the Air and Space Museum, the Natural History Museum, and Arlington National Cemetery, before finishing the evening with a walking tour of the monuments. Tyler Lagasse, 13-time state champion and 3-time silver medalist at the Special Olympics Games, was especially touched by the visit to our Nation's Capital.
Every time I come to the DC area, I’m reminded of how special this nation is. It’s practically the center of the world because people from all walks of life come to this city to experience America. I’m reminded that it’s the people that built this nation. I feel grateful that I live in a country where you can accomplish anything no matter your limitations.
Tuesday kicked off the Ryder Cup-style team tournament, where the Stars and Stripes left everything on the course. By Wednesday, the tournament had concluded, and the Stars team emerged victorious (34 to 26). Though the tournament came to an end, the fun (and golf) didn’t stop there. The teams traveled to TopGolf that evening where they enjoyed a celebratory dinner, bonding over the week’s memorable moments on the green as well as the new friendships forged.
I was incredibly humbled by the resilience of the kids from The First Tee. They were warriors in the heat, and never stopped laughing the entire time. You could hear them, holes away, cheering on each other. Their bond is as solid as ours, and the future of the game is well in hand. These young leaders will continue to motivate and take us into the future.
The group concluded their trip on Thursday, with a visit to Perfect Sense. The First Tee athletes and Special Olympians learned more about the company and its mission, while also looking toward the future and exploring possible career paths.
Following another successful Unified Challenge, Perfect Sense employees are already looking forward to what the rest of the summer holds. The company will be sponsoring a back-to-school drive for low-income students studying at Buzz Aldrin Elementary, just down the road from where Perfect Sense is headquartered. Additionally, a team will be heading to Aldrin in early August to help build an outdoor classroom, which will be used by the students year-round.
Perfect Sense will also be returning to support this summer’s YMCA’s Thingamajig Invention Convention. This year, a team of volunteers will work individually with students who received Perfect Sense camp scholarships to build new bikes, which they will be able to take home upon completion.