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State Honoree

Photo of State Honoree Robert Palmisano

Robert Palmisano

Maryland

Robert, a senior at Hereford High School in Parkton, has distributed more than 10,000 items of surplus and donated sports equipment to kids in need in underserved Baltimore neighborhoods over the past two years. When Robert heard that a school near his home in a rural Baltimore suburb was going to throw away 200 pairs of unwanted roller skates, he knew he could find a way to use them. He hauled the skates home, cleaned them, and after many phone calls, arranged to deliver the equipment to a recreation center at an elementary school in central Baltimore. The tears, smiles and hugs he received from the children at the school when he arrived made a powerful impact on Robert. That was when I discovered what I was truly meant to do, he said.

Over the next several months, Robert contacted all of the recreation centers and schools in his area to see if they had sporting goods they no longer needed, and began making regular deliveries of surplus baseball bats, soccer balls, football pads, lacrosse sticks and other sporting items to Baltimores inner city. Then he decided to really ramp up his effort. He formed a nonprofit organization called All Kids Should Play and started passing out flyers, giving speeches, hosting a website to promote local and national outreach, and contacting local and national businesses and organizations to solicit donations. Aided by newspaper and TV coverage, Robert has collected more than 10,000 pieces of sports equipment worth $150,000 for inner-city kids. I challenge other young people to pass the torch of opportunity off to another young person in need, he said. Because theres no experience more rewarding than making dreams come true.