What a Derby It Was!

Another Successful Derby in the Books

     SquashBusters capped off its triumvirate of 2020-21 fundraisers with its traditional MFS Derby over the last two weeks of April. As with the Lawrence MashUp and the Providence Rumble, the Boston-based program’s 14th annual Derby was held virtually, but exceeded expectations nonetheless by raising more than $1.35m, thanks to the commitment and determination of more than 130 amateur player/fundraisers, and corporate support from Title Sponsor MFS Investments, Diamond Sponsors Intercontinental Real Estate and Westfield Capital Management, and Gold Sponsors Brown Brothers Harriman, Loomis, Sayles, & Co., and William O’Neil + Co, and many more. See a full list of our corporate sponsors here.
     Amateur fundraisers, students and staffers split into eight teams to compete for points based on challenges reflecting SquashBusters’ principals of College, Character and Health. Challenges ranged from cleaning closets and donating items to random acts of kindness to creating an SQB jingle. Competitors even had the chance to don their best Derby attire and ride a horse, and they certainly got creative! Some of the most meaningful challenges allowed players to work directly with SQB students on resume building and mock interviews and engage in a timely discussion on sport and racial equity. Three special “Havi Challenges” were dedicated to the Sack-Goldstein family.
     All the teams embraced their fundraising mandate and Unbridled, captained by Hope Prockop and Jeannie Blasberg, nipped the fundraising honors over John Nimick’s aptly named gaggle of T-Wrecks, whose top stallion Sandy Tierney earned the Secretariat Award for individual fundraising, bringing in over $72,000 singlehandedly. The Racqueteers, under the inspiring leadership of Captain Scott DeSantis, outpointed the field on the final day of May 1st to win the challenge race and earn the prestigious Fineberg Cup. A special group of eight participants completed all 22 challenges, including team captains DeSantis, Sam Kaplan, Jack and Simone Winston, and Chessin Gertler, the ageless Lenny Bernheimer, Tucker Jones, the Latimore Family and Eijk’s Knights team Pro Gary “All In” Waite & Family.
     Super Chef Ming Tsai took time once again to participate on all levels including a fun and delicious zoom session of kitchen wizardry. An outstanding group of pros dedicated their time and energy to this year’s Derby, with every one of them contributing race points, including Derby rookies and twin World Champions Sarah Fitz-Gerald and Laura Massaro (with Laura’s husband Danny pitching in at the last minute), local stars Sharon Bradey, Arthur Gaskin, Hameed Ahmed and Justin Singh and SquashBusters veterans Mike Ferreira, Clinton Leeuw, David Palmer and Gary Waite.
     The closing ceremonies on Derby Day, May 1st, kicked off with an incredible video highlighting some of the more than 1000 challenges that were completed. See the whole version here.  Afterward, three SquashBusters students spoke movingly about the positive changes in their lives as a result of SQB.  Six-year team member Owen Nash spoke about how SquashBusters inspired a non-athlete to gain a love of exercise and self-motivation.  Romilda Miranda, an eighth-grader at Boston Latin School took us through her journey of confidence-building and self-reliance. Finally, Micheka Fenelon, a freshman at Bowdoin College, captured everyone’s attention with her powerful goal setting, broad involvement in college community activities and career plans in medicine, which she hopes will enable her to give back to SquashBusters in the future. One participant summed up what many were feeling after these speeches, “Does anyone else feel like we’re watching the world change before our eyes?”
     As always, Founder and CEO Greg Zaff closed the Derby by talking about love. “SQB wouldn’t exist without you guys,” he told the 90-person strong final Zoom.