Two rising seniors at South Burlington High School have a plan to get fellow students interested in the school’s Ultimate Frisbee program — and to raise awareness and money to help victims of the war in Ukraine.

Clara Margulius and Saksham Bhardwaj, both Ultimate Frisbee players, are holding a spike ball tournament Thursday, Aug. 18 during SoBu Nite Out, 5-8 p.m. Teams of two can enter with at least a $20 donation, but participants are encouraged to raise more for their team.

All proceeds will go to the nonprofit World Central Kitchen, which has been providing meals to those impacted by the conflict.

“Reading about what is happening over there, we wanted to do everything we can to help,” Margulius said.

A growing sport, the Ultimate Frisbee community across the state is tight knit. The two students want to build that kind of support for victims of the war, too.

“Ultimate Frisbee is definitely one of the newer varsity sports and really just started to gain popularity in the past couple years,” Margulius said. “Ultimate has a true spirit of the game, which adds a fun component and creates a good community.”

Vermont is the only state where Ultimate Frisbee is a varsity sport.

“You can play ultimate with guys and girls — it’s one of the sports that is less reliant on athletic ability, so it’s very welcoming,” Bhardwaj said. “When I heard about the girls’ team getting this event together, I thought it was a good opportunity to get the guys’ team involved too.”

Margulius first tried to organize the event during this past school year, but she found it hard to shore up donors and participants while keeping up with schoolwork. Having the event in the summer allowed her and her classmates to put more attention toward nailing down donors, including Heritage Toyota, Cheese and Wine Traders and Wings Over Burlington.

“We can scale the event up now (with those sponsors),” Margulius said, “It’s going to be a part of SoBu Nite Out at Veterans Memorial Park — there are food trucks and live music, which makes a really fun environment and draws a lot of people already.”

The organizers chose spike ball to promote Ultimate Frisbee — rather than Ultimate itself — because of its simplicity. Spike ball only requires teams of two, a small net and a ball. Even if people don’t want to participate, Bhardwaj said, they can watch the games and send in donations while attending the community night out.

Drumming up interest in their sport excites Margulius and Bhardwaj, but the two see the event as an opportunity to also do something bigger.

“I have distant family ties to Ukraine,” Margulius said. “When I volunteered at an event earlier in the summer with Vermont Stands with Ukraine, there was a spirit and community that was really touching and that I want to bring to this event.”

Vermont Stands with Ukraine is an organization that aims to unite the Ukrainian community in Vermont since the start of the war in February. The group works closely with the World Central Kitchen and organizes rallies to raise awareness of the conflict’s cost.

“World Central Kitchen is the largest food relief organization in Ukraine,” said Vermont Stands with Ukraine organizer Yuliya Gulenko Rudick.

She was born and raised in Ukraine and most of her family still lives there.

“I was so happy to see a local Vermonter wanting to do something to help,” she said. “Having this support from all over the world helps people like my family keep on going.”

Margulius and Bhardwaj are excited now that their plan is in place, and they hope the turnout will follow.

“It’s been a great experience putting this event together,” Margulius said, “working with our community to make it happen, bringing the community together and creating a fun environment while raising awareness for the Ukraine situation and fundraising for a great cause.”

More information is available at standwithukrainevt.com or on the event’s Instagram page, @spikeitforukraine.

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