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Latinos Unidos, SAO celebrate, conjunto, OSU-Michigan rivalry
By Kevin Milliken for La Prensa


Toledo, Nov. 26, 2011: The presidents of Latins United (Latinos Unidos) and the Spanish American Organization (SAO) worked together right up until kickoff Saturday afternoon on their annual Ohio State-Michigan Fundraising Party. After that, though, the pair became friendly rivals—one rooting for the Buckeyes, the other for the Wolverines.


“It gets the rivalry going with the game,” said SAO president Phil Barbosa. “We have people who are members of both Latins United and the SAO. It’s a ‘the more the merrier’ kind of effect: everyone who wants to come in, even if you’re not a member of either organization. On the days the doors are open, you’re allowed to come in and hang out and join the party.  ”


“Both organizations support kids who want to go to college,” said Latins United president Richard Atwater, whose wife hails from Toledo’s Jaimez family. “We also help people in the community—folks who need Thanksgiving baskets, for example.”


Barbosa was decked out in maize-and-blue University of Michigan garb. Atwater was wearing scarlet and gray to cheer on Ohio State. The pair of presidents ribbed each other throughout the game, which went back-and-forth to a 40-34 final score in favor of the Wolverines, breaking a 7-game losing streak.


“We get along no matter what,” Barbosa joked. “We still get along, even today.”


Both men described the party as a fun way for Latino friends and families to gather in a social atmosphere, watch the big game on a projection screen, and share a potluck dinner—mostly Latino cuisine and football fare. Latins United provides the main course as well as the venue, then guests bring a covered dish to share with others. SAO provides the advertising and publicity for the event each year.


The party usually draws about 100 people and raises scholarship funds for both groups through raffles and prize drawings. The event is held each year at the Latins United fellowship hall, beside SS Peter and Paul Catholic church.


“We do well,” said Barbosa.


Connie Rodríguez and María Morales advised La Prensa that this year’s winners of the SAO raffle were Butch and Debbie.


“It’s a nice event. We like it better when both teams are numbers one and two,” said Atwater with a grin. “This has been a challenging year for both schools, so we’ll see what shakes.”


Each school’s colors were prominently on display. The rivalry divides even couples and families, where a husband may be wearing scarlet and gray, and a wife decked out in maize and blue. The chants went back and forth the whole game, depending on which team was in the lead at any given moment.


Robert Torres even returned to his native Toledo from Canton, Ohio, where he works as the city’s economic development director. He was watching the big game with his brothers and some old friends. But Torres was teased throughout the game for wearing a Notre Dame jersey and hat. His favorite team would play later that evening against its long-time rival: Stanford.


But the decade-old tradition has become a strong draw for many Latino families who are sports fans, even since the rivalry game was moved to Thanksgiving weekend. The ones who will benefit most are the Latino teens who have dreams of attending college.


Copyright © 1989 to 2011 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11/29/11 16:45:56 -0800.





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