Rotary Special Athletes: 30 years of community service

Kerry Leraris, president of Glenside Rotary, has been running a volleyball team for people with special needs for over 30 years.

A New York native, she credits the program for her staying in Glenside after she graduated from Beaver College in 1992.

“Glenside Rotarians put this together in 1985, and they were trying to get more people involved. I fell in love with it and it changed my whole entire life,” Kerry said. “I went back home for a couple of months after I graduated, and then moved here permanently so that I could continue with the Special Olympics volleyball team that I had been volunteering with since I was a freshman in 1988.”

At that time, the program was in its infancy. By 1996, Rotary Special Athletes became a 501(c)(3) organization.

Kerry’s team practices for two hours on Thursdays from August until the season’s end in May. 11 other teams recently traveled from far and wide to take part in their annual volleyball tournament on Saturday, December 17 in Bryn Athyn.

“They have a banquet afterwards. Every year we provide them with a little bit of funding for that banquet,” Steve Vahey, a Glenside Rotarian, said. “Kerry does all the volunteer work and pretty much runs things by herself.”

And while the group is volleyball-centric, other activities, sports, and events are peppered in throughout the year as well.

“We have Halloween and Valentine’s Day dances. We have swimming and lacrosse, we have games in the gym,” she said. “Sportsfest is scheduled for April.”

A ’94 Masters of Education recipient and a former president of the Arcadia Alumni Association, Kerry welcomes current Knights to join the cause.

“We love it when the Arcadia students come out and volunteer,” she said. “It got its start there. At Beaver, it was called Beaver Association for Special Athletes, and then it became the Arcadia Association for Special Athletes. Many of the people who started the group have since passed away.”

If you’d like to become involved with Glenside Rotary or Rotary Special Athletes, you can reach out to Kerry at

“Glenside Rotary is an adult service organization. Rotary Special Athletes came out of local Rotarians who wanted to give back to the community, and I’ve just kept it going. It’s an amazing organization,” she said.