Partners in Service: URI 101 and the Siravo Foundation

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On November 7, 2008, the Ryan Center stands were filled with URI students, alumni and basketball fans wearing bright purple T-shirts to raise awareness about epilepsy, a neurological disorder characterized by recurring seizures, which affects an estimated 3 million people in the United States. The T-shirts were sold by 450 freshmen in 23 sections of URI 101, who partnered with the The Matthew Siravo Memorial Foundation, raising over $15,000 for epilepsy research, education, and awareness.

The students in the College of Business Administration’s URI 101 sections competed to see which section could raise the most money. Early in the semester, URI alumni Richard ’83 and Debra Siravo ’86 spoke to the students about their foundation, which they established to honor the memory of their son, Matthew, who suffered from epilepsy and died at the age of five after a prolonged seizure. Since then, the Siravos have dedicated themselves to helping others with epilepsy.

URI 101 is a required one-credit course for freshmen. Through the course, students get important information about support services and explore academic majors and career options. The course also has a service learning component that emphasizes the value of community service. According to Peg Ferguson Boyd, assistant dean of the College of Business Administration, the partnership with the Siravo Foundation was a winning proposition for all involved. The students rallied around the competitive aspect of the project, they helped URI alumni (the Siravos) advance their foundation’s mission, and the students learned about epilepsy. “Incorporating philanthropic thought is important for prospective business students,” and that idea was embodied in this project, said Boyd.

The Matthew Siravo Memorial Foundation funds medical research, offers scholarships, and provides education for medical and educational professionals. The Foundation’s newest initiative is the Matthew Siravo Epilepsy Resource Center, the first of its kind in Rhode Island. The Resource Center offers support and outreach to families affected by epilepsy throughout Rhode Island and beyond.

For more information about the Matthew Siravo Memorial Foundation, visit The Siravos invite you to join them for the Snow Angel Ball on January 24, 2009.

Like the purple T-shirts? Give to the Matthew Siravo Memorial Foundation and you’ll receive one!