Passion and Perseverance: Gregg Beloff ’83
In 2005, Gregg Beloff ’83 founded Bio-Ball, the single largest fundraising event for Massachusetts Special Olympics, raising over $1.8 million to date.
When a college friend at Middlebury asked Gregg if he’d be willing to coach a basketball team, he quickly agreed. It wasn’t until he showed up at the first practice that he realized it was a Special Olympics team. “I loved it,” says Gregg, who went on to coach Special Olympics athletes for the next 20 years. However, the demands of a growing family eventually started to conflict with weekend-long basketball tournaments, and Gregg wondered if there was another way he could help.
As co-founder and managing director of Danforth Advisors, a company that provides financial and operational support to the life sciences industry, Gregg decided to harness the biotech industry’s spirit of volunteerism to create Bio-Ball. Bio-Ball is a one-day basketball tournament where individual biotech and pharmaceutical companies partner with a Special Olympics basketball team to form an integrated team. This year, 16 teams competed in the event, participating in individual skill and 5-on-5 competitions. At the end of the day, a championship game determines the winner of Bio-Ball.
Though Bio-Ball has been running strong for thirteen years, the first year of the event was a non-starter. “We just couldn’t get it off the ground,” says Gregg, but he stuck with the concept. The following year, eight teams participated, raising $24,000 for Special Olympics.
Gregg sees many parallels between the spirit of perseverance that characterizes the biotech industry—where treatments can require 10 years of development—and the ethos of the Special Olympics organization. “Special Olympics is a change organization that sees athletics as a means for inclusion,” a lesson that Gregg learned early in his time at Fay, where he found himself studying alongside students from a diverse range of backgrounds. “Integration and inclusion were a part of daily life when I was at Fay, and that’s also what we’re striving for at the Special Olympics,” he says. “We want to level the playing field, roll out a ball, and let them play.”
In January, Gregg accepted the role of Chairman of the Special Olympics Massachusetts Board of Directors. In this role, he will help the organization increase awareness, raise funds, and fulfill the Special Olympics mission of challenge and inclusion.