Avvampato Taking a Selfless Track to Success
Jan. 31, 2011
The concept of leadership can be a coach or parent offering sage advice to motivate young people until a goal is accomplished
A leader makes sacrifices, becomes adept at multi-tasking and does not usually emerge as early as your sophomore year in college.
But it’s happening at DePaul in the person of outstanding student, track and field captain and volunteer worker Courtney Avvampato.
DePaul track coach Dave Dopek said he saw a special mindset in Avvampato, and wanted the La Jolla, Calif. native to start her career running cross country before making the transition to the mile and half-mile events in track.
“Courtney found herself on three or four consecutive weeks filling in for the cross country team,” Dopek said. “When you’re willing to put personal goals aside to be there for the team, that’s a pretty special act.”
Avvampato’s selfless acts are not limited to the track---she is also a volunteer for a nonprofit organization called Best Buddies. The organization pairs friendships between individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
Avvampato’s nine-year-old brother, Adrian, who is diagnosed with asperger's and cerebral palsy, provided the inspiration to reach out to the DePaul chapter of Best Buddies.
“Through my brother, I like being a part of these groups that really spread awareness of IDD,” Avvampato said. “It’s a very much misunderstood type of disability for these kids, and at times it can be very hard for them.”
Avvampato said her role is currently limited through Best Buddies, but one day she would like to expand her responsibilities and take a more hands-on approach within the program.
“The kids we work with at Best Buddies go to a high school at Northside Learning Center,” Avvampato said. “They (Best Buddies) are completely devoted to children with IDD, and one day I’d like to be more involved in organizing events and fundraising or even becoming a vice-president within the group.”
Best Buddies College Director Kaitlin Conway is a volunteer for the DePaul chapter and says that Avvampato’s energy and commitment help in every way.
“We were really happy to hear that Courtney wanted to be involved,” Conway said. “She comes to our events and takes pictures for slide shows. She is very friendly with everyone and not with just one ‘Buddy’ in particular.”
Keep in mind, Avvampato still finds time to study for classes and is consistently appearing on the Dean’s List.
And don’t think the focus ends there. Avvampato also has high expectations for herself on the track team.
“Knowing my skill level, I would really love to go to the Big East meet this season---hopefully for indoor championships in the 1,000 meters," Avvampato said. "It would be a great opportunity.”
Dopek is proud of his team captain for her efforts helping others in need while juggling multiple responsibilities as a young adult.
“I think we’re really fortunate to have somebody like Courtney who gets it on such a basic level,” Dopek said. “She really does recognize that there’s more to life than just running and going to school.
“She recognizes that there are other things to provide value within your life.”
After Avvampato graduates, she would like to further her education at DePaul in counseling while remaining involved with the Best Buddies DePaul chapter.
Through Avvampato’s passion to help others with IDD, keeping on top of her studies and competing in track, she is putting a new wrinkle in that concept of a leader.
Adrian may be more than 2,000 miles away in La Jolla, but his sister’s effort assisting others with IDD brings home a sense of pride.
Just imagine what his big sister might accomplish by the time she’s a senior.