University of Miami’s PREP students spent Saturday night, Sept. 24, working the Annual Special Olympics Sponsor an Athlete Awards Dinner Gala at the JW Marriot Marquis marking the first time PREP has teamed up with the organization.

PREP students assisted photographers and worked with social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Periscope, for cocktail hour, the R-word table, and the red carpet. Of the 10 students working the event, this was the first gala for all but the two managers, Kaley Surman and Brianna Valdivia.

“I really enjoyed the celebrity aspect,” said Eva Tahernia, a PREP student at her first gala. “We went up to the celebrities and gave them a heads-up before they went on stage to present an award.”

New PREP students Nathaniel Derrenbacher, Natalia Gonzalez, and Micaela Rooney, spent the night assisting photographers at the red carpet for cocktail hour and during the awards show. Although this is a fast-paced position, the PREP students were up for the challenge and for building new skills.

Students Emely Amaya and Chu Zhang spent cocktail hour asking celebrities and donors for photographs and to share their stories via social media. Molly Peot and Hannah Africk worked social media at the R-word table, helping a few Special Olympics athletes while they encouraged attendees to sign the poster, Spread the Word to End the Word. Tahernia and PREP veteran, Brianna Valdivia, initially worked social media for the red carpet, then transferred to assisting Special Olympics Area Director Linsey Smith,for the awards show.

As the show began, all students moved inside to capture the celebrities presenting the awards, as well as the award recipients for social media.

“The group was very organized and added a professionalism to our event that was noticeable,” said Smith. “We are excited to get all of your feedback and work with PREP to take our event to the next level.”

PREP partners with organizations throughout South Florida that provide opportunities for the students to grow and learn in the field of public relations, journalism, special events, publicity, promotions, marketing, social media, and more. As this is the first time PREP worked with Special Olympics Florida, it’s clear this is an organization that is a good fit as a partner for the program for years to come. The next event this semester is the Miami Children’s Health Foundation’s 5th Annual Fashion Gives Back event on Thursday, Sept. 29th