For those who haven’t heard of LeVel, it is a student organization that works closely with the Office of Disability Services at the University to raise able-ism awareness and to change attitudes about ability both on and off campus.
It was founded by junior Ariana Meltzer-Bruhn after she completed a 5k on crutches, and got more credit for it than another competitor in a wheelchair. It has since grown into one of the most popular organizations on campus. In its efforts to bridge the gap between able-bodied and differently-abled individuals, LeVel specifically targets academics, social interaction, mindsets and physical barriers.
Next week, LeVel will be hosting its second annual Casino Night, “Leveling Las Vegas—The American Dream,” an event designed to raise both funds and awareness for the differently-abled community at the University.
The event will take place at the Pavilion on Monday, April 22 from 7-11 p.m.
Advisor of LeVeL, Greg Hannah, is looking forward to the event. “I’m very excited to help continuing the tradition of Leveling Las Vegas,” he says. “A casino night that offers fun and fellowship which surrounds the mission of my office and the University to embrace people of all abilities is just one of the many reasons I enjoy my career.”
Sophomore Rachel Lee, director of events for LeVel, says that participants should “prepare to be pleasantly surprised.”
This year’s Casino Night will be about twice the size as last year’s, featuring more poker, blackjack, roulette and craps tables as well as carnival games and money wheels.
“We will have lightening bingo again along with a newly added photo booth and Wii game lounge,” she says. “There will be plenty of food, prizes and live entertainment as well.”
LeVel will be offering over 70 prizes, including gift cards to restaurants and shops along the Main Line.
These giftcards include places such as Hope’s Cookies, Red Mango and Bryn Mawr Running, as well as signed sports memorabilia, a Vineyard Vines and Oakley gift packages, Knicks and Phillies tickets, dinner with Father Peter, Beats headphones, Apple products, a week-long stay at an Ocean City beach house, $500 to a weekend stay in NYC, a 42” flat screen TV and much more.
Casino Night will also feature a live DJ as well as several performances by many of the University’s own a cappella groups throughout the night.
All of the funds raised through Casino Night will go to improving conditions for the differently-abled community on campus. Some of the funds will be allocated towards providing scholarships for students with disabilities to help pay for necessary housing requirements, wheelchairs and equipment, handicap accessible transportation, aids, advanced learning strategies and increased accessibility on campus.
Funds will also go towards a LeVel retreat in the fall with activities ranging from leadership workshops to a handicap accessible zip line.
Finally, money raised will be used to increase communal awareness about able-ism through events such as a Disabilities Panel, student group partnerships, guest speakers and off-campus presentations.
Lee has been involved with LeVel since her freshman year, when she and senior Frank Kineavy began working on homework together.
She had heard about the organization at Candidate’s Day Weekend as a high school senior after watching the documentary “Coming Off the DL” produced by LeVel advisor Greg Hannah and Steve McWilliams through the Office of Disability Services.
The video inspired Lee to put down her deposit at the University, and since then she has been working with LeVel to help “level” the playing field for all, regardless of physical or mental ability.
As director of events and a member of the executive board, Lee has helped to plan social events such as the organization’s Peace a Pizza Fundraiser, group dinners, movie nights and, of course, Casino Night.
“My involvement with LeVel has given me the opportunity to meet some of my best friends on campus,” Lee says. “It has also shed light on the incredibly positive attitudes and dedication that students and faculty alike have around the Office in our mission to bridge the gap between students with disabilities and abilities.”
Speaking for all of LeVel, Lee says, “We can’t wait to see everyone for an incredible night of gaming and entertainment in an effort to level the playing field for students of all disabilities and abilities.”