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Building a Team to Help Build Teams

By David Boegaard

Good Sports is a rapidly growing non-profit that started 12 years ago in Massachusetts. CEO Melissa Harper and COO Christy Keswick got together with a handful of friends and founded Good Sports in order to accomplish a clear mission: "To help kids gain access to sports." Good Sports works with teams, coaches, and community leaders across the country to remove barriers to participation by providing necessary sports equipment.

The initial years were tough, though. "We had no partners, no resources, and no track record. Frankly, there was no reason for anyone else to believe in our dream," says Keswick. But Good Sports had two necessary ingredients for a successful, impactful charity. First, they had a great idea. "We believed that being active was critical to childhood development and that it is a right, and not a privilege. And we confidently believed we had a way to help make that possible," Keswick tells us. And just as important as a great idea, they had the determination to put it into action. "We passionately believed that every child should have the opportunity to play, no matter the cost."

With a great idea and passion, they made it through their uncertainty. Good Sports' first achievement was a donation of 500 basketballs from Spalding that they distributed to a variety of organizations in the Boston area. Today, Good Sports is a proven success. "It's exciting to have started with just an idea and see it reach milestones like the one we just reached of impacting 2 million kids across 50 states," says Keswick.

The Good Sports team has passion because they know how important physical fitness is to the development of healthy and happy kids and adults. "We believe entirely that sports and physical activity is critical to youth development. You can't point to something else that has as many physical, emotional and cognitive benefits," says Keswick.

Because of the cost of equipment, however, there are fewer and fewer opportunities for children, especially poorer children, to engage in fitness activities. The lack of activity is one of the key drivers of increased obesity and diabetes among children. With help from Good Sports, organizations can lower participation fees, develop new programs, and get more kids active and involved.

Of course, Good Sports needs money to do its good works - and volunteers to help make it all possible. That's why the organization holds a fundraising gala each year. "It is a celebration of what we do and the people that make it happen," says Keswick. This year, "the energy in the room of 550 people was electric. We are so fortunate to have so many loyal donors that have been with us since the beginning as well as new donors joining us every day."

Every kid who plays a sport knows that they can't do it all themselves. And that's the spirit of Good Sports, suggests Keswick. "It takes a team to make it all happen!"

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