6 Organizations Using Sports To Improve Lives

Getting people outside and engaged in sports is more than just fun for some people. It can be a way to bring communities together, raise funds for important projects, and help those who need a place to belong. These organizations use the power of athletics to energize participants young and old, making giving back easy and enjoyable. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

6 Organizations Helping People Through Athletics

Name Mission
Layups 4 Life Helps raise funds for clinical trials and cancer treatments at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center through events and programs involving basketball and other athletic activities
Healthy Kids Running Series Inspires kids to believe in themselves and motivates them to lead a healthy and active lifestyle through a positive introduction to the world of running
Laureus USA Believing that sports have the power to change the world, they strive to improve the lives of youth and unite communities while supporting groups that use sports as a tool for social change
Wintergreen Adaptive Sports Provides outdoor recreational opportunities for persons with disabilities, regardless of age or type of disability
Trekkers Six-year program that helps young people grow into resilient, thriving, responsible young adults through mentoring and outdoor experiences
Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation Makes investments in Western New York and Southeast Michigan in areas of need such as caring for the elderly and encouraging entrepreneurship, as well as investments in youth sports & recreation and parks, trails, & green design

The Origins of the Healthy Kids Running Series

9 Fascinating Non-fiction Books About Sports and Fitness

Title Author(s) Sport
1. What Made Maddy Run Kate Fagan Track
2. Football for a Buck Jeff Pearlman Football
3. Ballerina Body Misty Copeland Dance
4. Eat and Run Scott Jurek & Steve Friedman Running
5. The Streak John Eisenberg Baseball
6. Boys Among Men Jonathan Abrams Basketball
7. Kings of the Road Cameron Stracher Running
8. Up, Up, and Away Jonah Keri Baseball
9. It’s How You Play the Game Brian Kilmeade Various

Dirk Nowitzki Accepts the 2020 Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award

In Depth

From basketball and football to canoeing and climbing, sports occupy a major place in American culture. At their best, they transcend their roles as recreational pastimes to become vehicles for community wellness and social change. The groups included here, listed in no particular order, use the power of sport for good.

At #1 is Layups 4 Life. This basketball-focused charity organization was founded by Dan Exter, who vowed to become a cancer advocate if he were to recover from his fight with leukemia. He did, and the mission of L4L is to help raise vital funds for research and clinical trials at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. The chemotherapy that Exter received in a clinical trial started him on the road to recovery. Later, he was eligible for a stem cell transplant procedure, which eventually saved him.

Today, Layups 4 Life's biggest charity fundraiser event is its basketball tournament, which is typically held in April. The tournament welcomes players of all skill levels, and consists of teams of three or four that face off against each other in division rounds. Since 2014, L4L has raised over $100,000 for cancer research and clinical trials through this and other sporting events. Those who are unable to take to the court to raise money can still contribute by making a donation online.

Those who are unable to take to the court to raise money can still contribute by making a donation online.

For #2 we have Healthy Kids Running Series, a nationwide, community-based nonprofit that offers a fun, inclusive five-week running program for kids between two and fourteen. Designed to combat childhood obesity, the series helps children get active, build self-esteem, and develop a healthy lifestyle. The organization's races range from 50 and 75-yard dashes for preschoolers to a full mile for those in fourth through eighth grade.

Healthy Kids Running Series has over 300 course locations throughout the United States. To get involved and start a race of your own, you can join as a Community Coordinator in your town. You can also volunteer to assist with race day organization, or become a sponsor to establish valuable civic relationships, drive business, and enhance community life for children and adults alike.

Coming in at #3 is Laureus USA. Its mission is based on the idea that sports can bridge divides to bring communities together, teaching valuable life skills and bolstering personal and civic welfare. Striving to empower underserved populations, Laureus supports the growth of organizations that use sport as a tool for social change. It collaborates with nationwide partners, providing grants to youth-serving development programs and facilitating research projects.

Striving to empower underserved populations, Laureus supports the growth of organizations that use sport as a tool for social change.

Operating in Atlanta, New York City, Chicago, and New Orleans, Laureus takes a collective approach to improving youth outcomes through the power of sport. It champions sport for development programs that focus on achieving four long-term goals: improving physical and mental health, increasing employment, boosting access to education, and nurturing inclusive communities. You can get involved by joining the organization's online community, or by attending one of its events near you.

Next, for #4 we get Wintergreen Adaptive Sports. Based at Wintergreen Resort in Nelson County, Virginia, this organization provides outdoor sports and recreational opportunities for people with disabilities. Serving all ages and disability types throughout the year, it offers adaptive instruction in snowboarding, alpine skiing, kayaking, and canoeing. Injured military veterans can partake in the Wounded Warriors Weekend during the winter, and can get out on the green to play in a golf tournament over the summer.

More than 2,000 students with disabilities have received adaptive lessons in outdoor sports through the organization. This is made possible by the over 100 volunteers who participate in winter and summer programs as junior and senior-level instructors each year. Equally integral to the group is its mentoring program, which pairs students with instructors who have disabilities similar to their own. To help sustain the organization's operations, consider volunteering, or contributing a gift online.

To help sustain the organization's operations, consider volunteering, or contributing a gift online.

Showing up at #5 is Trekkers. Since 1994, this group has been cultivating the strength of young people through the power of long-term mentoring relationships. Serving students in Midcoast Maine, its program utilizes outdoor, experiential, and travel-based education to increase resiliency, raise aspirations, and enhance connections between youth and their communities. The program lasts six years, starting when students are in seventh grade and following them through graduation.

Throughout the six years, program managers spend time with students, and meet with their parents, coaches, teachers, and guidance counselors. A network of committed volunteers helps further fortify this safety net. Program activities include historical, educational, and nature-based expeditions to places like Washington, DC and various national parks, as well as trips to colleges and art schools. Ensure that young people can grow into thriving, responsible adults by becoming a Trekkers mentor.

Finally, for #6 we come to Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. Funded by proceeds from Wilson's sale of the Buffalo Bills, the Foundation works to assist and empower communities in Western New York and Southeast Michigan. Following Wilson's passing in 2014, it began operations to continue his legacy, carrying on his spirit of generosity, innovation, civic collaboration, and philanthropy. It supports communities by investing in four core funding areas, which comprise active lifestyles, success preparation, caregiving, and entrepreneurship and economic development.


Aiming to foster healthy habits and increase access to natural public spaces, the Foundation makes investments in youth sports and recreation, as well as in parks, trails, and green design. By supporting the capacity for kids to become active through sport regardless of their status or ability, it works to positively impact long-term health and education outcomes. The organization's grant-making extends to early childhood, job training, and technical assistance, among other areas. You can learn more by subscribing to the group's newsletter.