For the past 10 years, Lake Nona Youth Sports has been providing opportunities for young students in the community to play sports in a safe and fun environment. Formed in 2008 by a group of parents who recognized a need for kids ages five through 14 to learn valuable life skills through playing sports, this registered non-profit 501(c)(3) organization is led by an all-volunteer board, coaches and assistants.
“When Lake Nona Youth Sports was first established, there were just two programs – football and cheer – for kids to participate in,” says C.R. Dunnavant, president of Lake Nona Youth Sports. “Through the years, we’ve worked to form partnerships with Lake Nona High School and other community sports organizations to offer lacrosse, wrestling and rowing, with even more potential sports opportunities coming in the future.”
To help make these programs a reality, fundraising is an important endeavor for the Lake Nona Youth Sports board. The 2018 fundraising campaign is being led by new board member William McNeil to raise over $30,000 from individuals, corporations and community leaders. “We have been supported by generous past donors whose contributions have made it possible for us to purchase new uniforms and equipment and rent athletic fields for practices and games,” McNeil says. “This year, donor support enabled us to buy new sticks and pads for the lacrosse team that helped them successfully compete at a high level. This support is extremely important since our program helps prepare student athletes to try out for the Lake Nona High School lacrosse team.”
Although McNeil is a new board member, his son, Danny, plays on the Lake Nona Jr. Lions 10U football and lacrosse teams that he also helps coach. McNeil is a licensed attorney and moved in 2009 to Central Florida, where he is the founder and CEO of Accelergy Consulting, providing sales and financial forecasting to small and medium-sized businesses. His business background and expertise uniquely qualifies him for the role of director of fundraising for Lake Nona Youth Sports.
“Our plan this year is to seek corporate partnerships in the community and hold fundraisers throughout the year at local restaurants and businesses,” McNeil says. “We’ve also recently launched a crowdfunding campaign that will make it easier for community members to support youth sports and help spread the word through their social media channels.”
Raising funds throughout the year is especially important since at the start of every sports season the board identifies families in need. They review requests for assistance for kids whose parents are unable to meet the financial obligations of participating in sports and make decisions to support kids who wouldn’t otherwise be able to play.
“Caring for the kids in Lake Nona who will someday live and work in our community is our priority,” Dunnavant says. “When kids play sports and learn important life skills to help them be successful, the entire community benefits. We are so grateful to every individual and business who helps us do that.”
You can donate to the Lake Nona Youth Sports by visiting their Fundly page at https://fundly.com/lake-nona-youth-sports-fund-drive.
Valerie Sisco lives in Lake Nona and is the author of the blog gracewithsilk.com.