Due to the financial impact of COVID-19 on families and organizations, youth sports programs across the country are suffering. More than half of youth sports programs are at risk of permanent shut-down leaving more than 20 million children without access.
In order to save youth sports, Athletes for CARE and LeagueSide are embarking on a fundraising campaign to help raise much needed funds to preserve youth sports organizations throughout North America.
“As an organization of more than 200 professional athletes whose athletic careers started in youth sports, we understand the importance of these programs. Children who participate in sports learn significant life skills, make friends, stay active, and for some, athletic programs provide a safe haven from abuse or neglect at home,” said Anna Valent, Executive Director of Athletes for CARE.
“Canceled leagues and tournaments result in lost revenue for organizers (predominately non-profits).” said Evan Brandoff, Co-Founder and CEO of LeagueSide. “Families are asking for refunds and youth sports organizations’ bank accounts are running dry, this compounds the problem of non-participation among children from low income families who are already 400% more likely to quit a sport due to costs,” He added.
Athletes for CARE Ambassadors are proud to be rallying together to support this immediate need, and #SaveYouthSports. Each and every athlete has been impacted by youth sports which has served as the foundation for their professional careers.
“Losing youth sports is devastating due to so many kids missing out on building critical life-long skills such as discipline and teamwork as well as how to win and lose in life with grace. Great leaders I meet in all walks of life share how sports has given them the ability to fail and lose but still rise up for victory!,” said NFL Hall of Famer and “NFL 100” Member, Ronnie Lott.
“Youth sports changed my life. It taught me self-confidence, self-efficiency and independence. I played adaptive sports in an able-bodied world, and the impact of my relationships to my teammates was inclusive and helped me become who I am today,” said Kaitlyn Verfuerth, Team USA Paralympian 2004, 2008 and 2016 Wheelchair Tennis.
“As a kid I was bullied on a daily basis due to a bad skin disease. Playing youth sports helped me redirect the anger I had for the bullies, and channel that anger towards track & field and Martial arts.” Said Bas Rutten, Former MMA, Kickboxer and Wrestler. “Youth sports taught me to listen to instructions, discipline, interacting with other kids, improved my cognitive skills, more importantly, it gave me a purpose and later in life a profession. I was a super hyper kid, what they now call ADD, so playing youth sports helped not only me, but also my family and everybody around me from going nuts.” Rutten added.
“As an adolescent my vision for getting out of Louisiana was to utilize my athletic skills to create a platform which would grant me the opportunity to receive an education scholastically, so I worked my tail off in middle school and high school.” Said Leonard A Marshall Jr., Former NFL Defensive Lineman. “My youth sports experience on the football, baseball, and basketball fields allowed me to gain the discipline to play professionally and also develop the character of a competitor with many of my friends.” he added.
Corporate sponsors and individuals who recognize the value of youth sports are encouraged to donate to #SaveYouthSports and participate in sharing the campaign. For more information on getting involved or contributing to #SaveYouthSports, visit www.saveyouthsports2020.com.