Mission

Ann Arbor Active Against ALS is a grassroots, nonprofit organization whose mission is to raise funds for research toward effective treatments and ultimately a cure for ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), while raising awareness of the disease, encouraging physical activity, and building a compassionate community.

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One Coach’s Story

At the beginning of this fall season, I was looking for a way to get the boys thinking about issues broader than soccer or sports.  Beneath the 8 year-old machismo, they are a caring bunch, and I thought it would be nice to get them involved in some form of charitable activity. And then the formation of A2A3 prompted the following idea.

I told the boys that their good deeds on the soccer field could translate into good deeds off the field as well, and that for each act of sportsmanship or leadership during a game, and for each goal that the team scored, a $10 charitable contribution would be made in their name to A2A3. We talked about ALS – many of the boys know Bob, either because they are friends or classmates of Sophie, or because they have been out on a sports field with him, and they had heard that he was going to do battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease (and, of course, they all know who Lou Gehrig is).

They were very excited about helping out. They got quite animated talking about charitable work, and a number of them mentioned that they also wanted to do something to help out kids in other countries. As a result, we decided to make a contribution as well to Nothing but Nets, the organization that buys nets to protect families from malaria in Africa (there’s a sports link there too, as the organization gained a lot of publicity in America due to then-Sports Illustrated writer Rick Reilly). I told the boys that my law firm had money set aside for charitable causes, and that it would provide the seed money for the donations this season, but that if they wanted to contribute some of their allowance money etc., or if their parents also wanted to contribute, that would be great.

We implemented the plan after the first 2 games of the season had already passed. In the final 5 games the boys’ deeds earned $500 worth of contribution money, which is the amount that the firm had pledged to fund. This gave me a nice opportunity for a “teaching moment” with the boys.

The team had $200 of parental money set aside from last season for shorts for the boys that we had not yet spent. I told the boys that we could still get them shorts, or that the $200 would instead cover perfectly the sum of sportsmanship/leadership/goals points that they had amassed in the first two games of the season, and that we could use it for that purpose. A great discussion then followed, and a strong consensus developed to allocate the shorts money to the charitable pot. So in total the boys’ deeds earned $700 in charitable contributions for the season, some of which involved a direct material sacrifice on their part. The boys approved the suggestion that $400 of that money could go to A2A3, and the balance would go to the Nothing but Nets program. In addition, the parents came up with a $160 “coach’s gift” which will also go to A2A3, for a total team contribution of $560 to A2A3 for the season.

– Riyaz Kanji, boys soccer coach