Backyard Sports Cares started with just a few caring people and a vision in 2009 and has grown into what is now an integral part of our community. Serving over 200 children with cognitive challenges, Backyard Sports has been able to give those with limited access to sports programming a safe space to play sports, compete appropriately, build confidence and have fun. This could not be done without the support and dedication of our volunteers and young community leaders.
With over fifty middle school and high school age peer mentors volunteering their time to work one on one with each athlete, the need for a leadership team within our volunteers emerged. Backyard Sports took the most dedicated, experienced and oldest of our volunteers and created the first class of Senior “Red Shirts.” Attaining Red Shirt status requires more than just senior standing; volunteers earn their place as leaders.
“These young men and women showed dedication, care, and compassion to every one of our athletes and families and have been incredible role models to our younger volunteers,” said Danny Bernstein, executive director, Backyard Sports Cares.
On Saturday, June 8th, 2019, Backyard Sports honored its first graduating class of Red Shirts as they passed the leadership baton to this year’s incoming senior leaders. Departing seniors presented their successors with their first red shirt. To commemorate the event, both current and incoming senior leaders were asked to inscribe a red shirt with words that convey what it means to be a Backyard Sports Cares Red Shirt. Moving words, including kindness, rewarding, leadership, connections, patience, responsibility, and heart ♥, were among the adjectives used by volunteers.
Before being presented with their first red shirt, the soon-to-be senior leaders were invited to compete against their graduating predecessors in a friendly game of Gaga at SUNY Purchase. Post-ceremony festivities brought together our special needs athletes and families and included admission to the “Boundless” ropes course and a BBQ dinner.
As Backyard Sports continues to grow within the community, which we are fortunate enough to serve, we would like to once again congratulate the 2019 inaugural class of Red Shirts, as well as the upcoming 2020 class of Red Shirts! To all of our senior leaders moving on to college and the next phase in life, we wish you all the best and want you know – Once a Red Shirt, Always a Red Shirt!