Middlebury

Picking Up Butch

October 10, 2012

For half a century, Middlebury College student athletes have helped local resident Butch Varno - who suffers from cerebral palsy - enjoy sporting events and other activities in the community. The tradition began back in 1960, when Roger Ralph, a 1963 Middlebury College graduate, saw Varno's grandmother struggling to push Butch's wheelchair through snow and mud on the way home from a football game and offered to pick them up. Little did he know that "Picking up Butch" would become a college ritual that continues in force today.

Varno's story has drawn national attention, inspiring a Sports Illustrated column by Rick Reilly in the spring of 2003, an ESPN SportsCenter Feature that fall and a visit from Steve Hartman of the CBS Evening News in 2007. The ESPN story later won an Emmy Award and a prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award. Other features have also appeared in the Associated Press and the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine. The latest feature on Butch was done for ESPN's E:60 program, airing in November of 2010.

Interested In Helping Out?

Make an online gift to the Butch Varno fund! Using the online form, please type "Butch" in the "Additional Information" box.