Dante Lechuga, 11, of Firestone, Colorado, a sixth-grader at Coal Ridge Middle School, helps plan and run an annual two-day sports camp that over the past five years has exposed more than 1,000 kids to sporting experiences their families could not afford. When Dante and his sister were playing with a friend at a park one day, their father set up an agility course with balls, cones and ropes that he had in his truck. “We had so much fun that I begged him to organize another play date at the park,” said Dante. The next time they invited more friends, and from that humble beginning sprang a family-run sports camp that has become a significant event in Dante’s town.
Now, every year, about 350 kids and 80 teen and adult volunteers, including some of the top coaches in the area, come together to participate in soccer, lacrosse, football and agility training. Throughout the year, Dante and his family work with a local church and athletic organization to register participants, raise the funds that enable them to keep the cost down to just $12 per child, purchase insurance and secure sponsorships from local businesses. Dante and his sister hand out fliers at local businesses and schools to promote the camp and help recruit volunteers. Dante also helps register participants, assists his father in preparing the playing fields and equipment, ensures there are enough T-shirts for all of the campers, and leads some of the sports activities. “It’s a lot of work,” said Dante, “but if we can change the life of one child, then it’s all worth it.”