I would like to start my first blog post with a quick story from my time as an equipment manager with the Syracuse University football program. On a beautiful fall day, I remember hustling over from my finance class all the way across campus to the Carrier Dome for our 2:30 PM practice. Once I arrived at the stadium and finished setting up the defensive drills for the day, I started throwing the football with our Defensive Coordinator (now Head Coach), Scott Shafer. As the players began to spill into the stadium, one of our young freshman defensive backs, Phillip Thomas, walked up to Coach Shafer with a huge smile on his face. “Hey coach, I got an 89 on this test!” – what followed was a reaction that took me by surprise. Coach Shafer was so jubilant you would have thought Phillip had just won us the National Championship. His display of academic success was as important to Coach Shafer as were Phillip’s game saving tackles, sacks and numerous interceptions.
In my first blog, I wrote about Phillip Thomas who at a young age, realized that the hand he was dealt, while different than mine, did not have to consume his life. Phillip’s coaches taught him that by working hard and excelling on the football field, he could have a better life than that into which he was born. As I mentioned in my previous post, I was fortunate when I grew up to have a bed, food, vacations, and access to participate in any sport I wanted. The activity I most enjoyed was athletics. From the day I could grasp a toy, I was constantly throwing a ball or swinging a baseball bat. As I grew older, this continued. I participated in many different sports – some for many years and some for a few months. Whatever the case was, I never had to worry about having the equipment I needed. It would have been very easy for me to take all of this for granted. I was lucky to have parents who constantly reminded me how lucky I was to be in this position. They instilled this message by getting me involved in a wide array of community service activities both in the United States and abroad. While most people would have noticed the run down schools and hospitals, with my obsession with sports, I always noticed the lack of sporting equipment in these communities. I know how much sporting equipment goes to waste across the country. Having grown up in the community that I did, and from my work in the sports world, I decided to form a nonprofit organization that works to ensure equipment ends up in the hands of those who desperately need it. The key to making this happen is to educate young people about the importance of giving back to those less fortunate. Many kids do not realize how lucky they are to have access to the equipment they need in order to participate in a given sport. I never realized there were millions of kids who couldn’t play soccer because they couldn’t afford to buy cleats, socks, shin guards and a ball. This makes athletic participation difficult, which is shame because getting involved in athletics is one of the most effective ways to help children overcome adversity. Statistics show that kids who play sports are half as likely to drop out of school or take drugs. Unfortunately, at-risk youth are three times less likely to participate in athletics than other children. One of the reasons for this discrepancy is due to the lack of equipment available. With equipment prices at an all time high, it is important to realize the significance of helping those less fortunate than ourselves. Whether it is a family like mine, a private sports league, a collegiate athletic department or even a professional sports franchise, we all need to realize there are people who are not as fortunate as we are. If you are interested in donating equipment to our cause, please email firstname.lastname@example.org!