For years, my son was my right-hand-man at meetings. He was the master cotton candy maker at events. He was the clean up crew and the cupcake eater at check presentations. Since day 1, my son, Parker has been immersed in Kids Boost. For years he asked when he could do a project. I purposefully waited until he took initiative to fully think through the process before I let him officially get started. That day finally came last fall when 10-year-old Parker declared he wanted to plan a Penalty Kick Challenge to help less fortunate kids play soccer.
Yup, my heart about exploded in that moment. Truth be told, a big reason why I started Kids Boost was because I wanted to raise a kind and generous boy but realized very quickly that the world lacks opportunity for young kids. I realized that I could sign him up to play soccer or take drum lessons yet it was virtually impossible for us to volunteer together. I started Kids Boost to give kids, including Parker, the support, encouragement and accountability they need to make a difference in a fun way.
So, Parker received his $100 check, his portfolio and his coach (which was me… mistake #1). He jumped right in. Parker comes from a passionate family so when I say that Parker loves soccer, I really mean that Parker is borderline obsessed. He had everything planned from his dream location to the part where Josef Martinez (Atlanta United player) kicks the winning PK Challenge shot. We don’t discourage dreaming at our house.. or in Kids Boost! Anywho, my heart was full watching Parker pour his love and time into helping less fortunate kids play the sport he loves so much.
One of the key ingredients of Kids Boost is the 3rd party Coach. Key words… 3rd Party. So I should have known better than to play the role of Parkers coach. Let’s just be honest, kids often listen to another trusted adult more than their parents at this age. But since we are tight on coaches, I just figured that this made more sense. I was wrong but it worked out. There were just a few times that I know the mom in me took over a bit too strong.
I got to watch Parker seek support from complete strangers in order to make his event a success. He was brave enough to go on The Bert Show, which was something I had done about a 100 times but I can honestly say that I was more nervous than he was that day. He killed it. He shared his “why” and asked people to come out to raise money for Georgia Soccer. He walked out of the studio beaming with pride (and his mama did too!)
Even though he was super nervous, Parker also talked to countless managers to ask for prize donations and snack items. I sat and watched my boy politely shake hands with strangers and ask for help. I saw him face rejection but decide to keep going. I saw his confidence soar when he got that “yes” he had been hoping for. I saw him grow up and mature a little right before my eyes.
Throughout his project, Parker packed swag bags, passed out flyers, planned the format of the challenge and even did volunteer placement. He was thrilled to hear that more than 100 people were registered for the event. His highlight was the ginormous inflatable soccer goals (thank you, Astro Jump) and he had everything ready for the popcorn and hot cocoa bars. Parker planned for everything.
Well except for one thing… the weather. After days of sunny 70 degree weather in December, the day of his event was going to be 35 degrees and raining. And well, we didn’t have a back up plan (mistake #2). With the help of Parker’s principal at his school, Cumming Elementary allowed us to use their gym and cafeteria. Huge, right?!? We were so thankful! But this meant we had to find soccer goals and Parker had to re-plan the whole layout of the PK Challenge. It was at this point, when Parker learned that “life happens” and how to adjust and not just quit.
The big day arrived and Parker was beyond pumped (side note: His beloved Atlanta United team won the MLS cup the night before so he was on cloud 9 despite the fact that Josef Martinez wouldn’t make his event due to competing priorities… but we understood. Keep dreaming, Parker… keep dreaming!) With a dream team of volunteers, we turned the cafeteria and gym into a soccer field and playground. Despite the rain, everyone came out, played hard and had fun!
That night, Parker was able to count all of the money he raised. He counted dollar by dollar to realize he raised $2,724 to help others. As a parent, there is something magical about watching your child get so excited about counting money that will never touch his wallet. It wasn’t Parker’s money… it was all money he was about to give away, yet he was more excited about that stack of bills than any other stack that ever belonged to him. Now that’s a lesson in generosity and a lesson in the joys of giving!
Throughout the last few years, I have been able to watch 100 kids use their talents and passions for good. I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to help them achieve a goal and make an impact. But let me tell you, it’s a whole different experience when you get to watch your own. Parents out there… you probably create time and provide opportunity for sports, school, arts, music and/or religion, so why not make it a priority to carve out time for your kids to make a difference? Watch their confidence grow and their esteem skyrocket as they blow their own minds in regards to what they can do at such a young age! It’s a decision I will never regret!