GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Playing sports in a community league, or at school, is often not cheap. Yet it encourages physical fitness, and can be so much fun.
Thanks to five Fruita Monument High School incoming seniors, organized sports will be affordable for some children and teens who otherwise wouldn't be able to participate due to financial hardship.
Kelin Henke, Travis Moesser, Michael Harris and Logan Pfister - each an athlete - established a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization last year to help kids be able to play sports regardless of ability to pay. Fellow student Gage Lovern joined the group this year.
The Grand Junction teenagers collect new and lightly used, or gently worn sporting equipment, as well as donations to use for scholarships to cover various sports' league and school fees for kids ages 5 to 18.
Thus far, Play Back Sports has given away 16 basketballs, 16 soccer balls, one bowling ball and bag, two bicycles, three footballs, two football cleats, two gymnastic shoes, eight soccer cleats and shin guards, softball equipment, golf clubs, 15 baseball bats, balls, batting gloves, bags and clothing, 25 soccer balls for Iddy Biddy Soccer camp, and other miscellaneous items. Numerous scholarships covering an array of different sports fees have also been distributed to families.
"We collect gear year-round," Moesser said. "We've helped a ton of kids so far through equipment and scholarships.
"There are a lot more kids that can't afford (sports) than people think."
Most referrals come from Grand Junction Parks and Recreation and Mesa County School District 51, after interested participants fill out an application.
The teens met with Fruita City Council members to explain their project, and to ask for the council's help as well, in referring kids who need help with gear or sports fees.
Sports equipment donations can be dropped off either at Grand Junction or Fruita Monument high schools. Or, contact Moesser at email@example.com and he'll make arrangements to come get it.