Looking for a way to beat the winter blues? Well, grab a buddy and skate on over to the rink at Longshore Club Park for the first Best Buddies Ice Skating Day on Feb. 12.

The fundraising event is being organized by the Staples High School chapter of Best Buddies, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building friendships and creating employment opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The fundraiser is from noon to 5 p.m., and the rink's normal public skating fees will be charged.

"We want this to be a relaxing, low-key event, nothing big or flashy, just Westport citizens and high school students sipping hot chocolate and skating during this beautiful time of year," said Staples Junior Callie Loparo, who is the event's coordinator.

And if you'ver wanted a ride on a Zamboni, that will be a raffle prize.

Staples Best Buddies members hope the skate will also raise community awareness of the group's work, and they'd like to make it an annual event.

"I hope the people who come can have a one-on-one relationship with the special needs kids in our group and have a really fun time," said Patty McQuone, the chapter's faculty adviser.

Staples chapter members plan to take to the ice with their buddies--special needs students from Staples and other Fairfield County high schools.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will go toward the annual Buddy Ball, a prom-like event for Connecticut special needs students being held on April 2 at Staples.

The event exemplifies how Best Buddies offers an active social life to the students it serves, says the Staples chapter's executive director, Sami Schwaeber.

"We're dealing with kids who are in our school and struggling for friendships," she said. "It's really rewarding when we take them out to movies or have Valentine's Day parties with them to see how happy they are to be with company."

The fundraiser will include a raffle for Zamboni rides on the ice, a silent auction and a bake sale.

More information about Best Buddies is available online at www.bestbuddiesct.org.