Shoremen Soccer Players Team Up with Youth Challenge

On Thursday, June 28th, the Avon Lake High School Boys Soccer Team and participants and volunteers from Youth Challenge joined together to celebrate the Paralympics!

Youth Challenge not only provides adapted sports and recreational opportunities to young people with physical disabilities and their teen volunteer partners but the U.S. Paralympics, a division of the National Olympic Committee, designated YC as Paralympic Sport Cleveland.

Four YC Teams—The Vipers, Betty White Killer Clown Memes, Three Pointers, and Nacho but Fantastic Bears—competed at Avon Lake Memorial Field throughout the day in various Paralympic events including tennis, basketball, track & field, and (of course) soccer.  Each team was led by YC staff members and 2 captains from the ALHS soccer team.  Activities were facilitated by ALHS soccer players who explained rules, kept score, and cheered on YC participants.  Youth Challenge teen volunteers worked hands-on to help each participant adapt each sport and served as friends, mentors, and coaches in the process.  Over 80 children and teens of all abilities were present for the fun-filled day of competition.

“Putting on an event like this was truly special, not only for the participants but for our program as well,” said senior team captain Andrew Jacobson. “Thank you to Youth Challenge for allowing us to host this event. The Avon Lake Shoremen soccer program is proud to have worked with such an outstanding group of people.”

Paralympic Day ended with a soccer match where all 4 YC teams and the Avon Lake High School soccer players took the field to score on each other’s goals.  After all points were totaled, the Three Pointers were announced as the winners and each member received a gold medal prize!

“We were thrilled to have the Shoremen partner with YC,” said Sarah Perez-Stable, Director of Volunteer Services at YC.  “It was great to see these athletes come alive in sharing their love of soccer with our participants and volunteers and we hope to work with the team again soon.”

Youth Challenge participants, volunteers and members of the Shoremen Soccer team get ready to compete at Avon Lake Memorial Field for Paralympic Day.

Over 80 children and teens of all abilities were present for the fun-filled day of competition at Paralympic Day at Avon Lake Memorial Field.

Exciting changes at YC

At the beginning of next year, Mary Sue Tanis, the founder and current leader of Youth Challenge, will be stepping out of her role of 42 years as Executive Director.  She’s not retiring!  Mary Sue will still very much be a part of YC, but will transition from her current position to focus on Planned Giving and Major Gifts.

“I’m excited to serve Youth Challenge in a whole new way,” said Tanis.  “With countless opportunities ahead for these amazing children and teens, I am extremely happy to be able to play a role in securing our mission going forward.”

Over the past 18 months, the Youth Challenge Board of Trustees and members of our Board of Advisors have helped craft a plan to ensure an exceptional candidate was found to replace Mary Sue. Chris Garr, YC’s Director of Program Services, was voted unanimously by the Youth Challenge Board to serve as the next CEO & Executive Director.  Ken Kasler, Chief Operating Officer, will continue to work in tandem with Chris to ensure the YC mission and services stay strong.

“I’ve held a deep passion for YC since first volunteering at the age of 12,” said Garr. “That passion has never waned, and I am proud to serve our families in this new capacity, alongside a staff of dedicated and caring professionals that are second to none.”

As Chris transitions to this new office, other program staffers will be shifting roles and responsibilities internally to keep YC running smoothly.  We will be utilizing the talents, skills, and heart of program staff Sarah Perez-Stable, Mackenzie Vecchio, Megan Smith, Laurel Sweet King, and others to cover all areas of program operation.

To all of the YC volunteers, participants, donors, and families thank you for being a part of Team YC as we enter this new chapter in our history.

Summer’s End Bash

This weekend Youth Challenge participants, volunteers, staff members, friends, and family celebrated the end of a great season at YC.

The whole YC parking lot was blocked off and made into an area to celebrate.

There was basketball, cornhole, a dunk tank, facepainting, tattoos, food, dancing, music, an area to chalk, and a watermelon eating contest. There was also a craft table set up where you first traced the outline of your hand onto old YC artwork, then you cut it out, and put it on block letters that said, “I ❤ YC” to make a collage. During the celebration, Chris got on top of the roof to take a picture of all participants and volunteers that were in a “YC” shape to commemorate the 41st summer of Youth Challenge. At the end of the night, a highlight video of the summer season was shown.

ADA Day 2017

On July 26th, Youth Challenge celebrated 27 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act down at Wade Oval in University Circle with many fellow Clevelanders. Local organizations, food trucks, and a big stage encompassed Wade Oval. Live music played throughout the evening, and crowds of people sat to listen. Some were even salsa dancing in the front.

The support Cleveland showed for the ADA was a wonderful sight to see. Youth Challenge brought the energy with a flash mob; volunteers and participants stormed the stage to dance, cheer, and celebrate. The night was an inclusive party.

Play Ball!

On June 22nd, the YC gang spent the day playing and watching baseball. We started at French Creek Metro Park where we grilled out and had a picnic. Hot dogs were involved of course!

We then split into teams, boys vs. girls, and played some baseball. YC baseball is adapted to make it more fun for all participants, so buckets are placed at the bases, and to get the runner out, the baseman needs to toss the ball into the bucket. The game got pretty exciting; a few players even hit a homerun!

KeyBank Neighbors Make a Difference to YC

Each spring, thousands of employees gather for KeyBank’s Neighbors Make the Difference Day. To demonstrate their support and commitment to the community, Key employees volunteer at local non-profit organizations throughout the country.

A group of local KeyBank volunteers took part in the company’s annual community service day by lending many helpful hands to Youth Challenge. The volunteers scrubbed our fleet of ten vans inside and out and got them ready to roll for our 42nd summer.

YC provides over 5,000 free van rides to our participants annually. Without our transportation program, many of the participants would not be able to attend YC programs. The volunteers from KeyBank provided a valuable service by cleaning the vans for the kids. Thank you to our friends at KeyBank for including Youth Challenge in Neighbors Make the Difference Day!