1. Which non-profit mission do you feel most committed to supporting?
There are really two: young kids--more specifically coaching boy’s youth sports--and looking after the elderly. It really looks to both ends of life’s spectrum. On one end, you have young men, so full of dreams, potential and energy, who are in some critical formative years of their lives and the other end, the elderly who are facing the challenges of aging, ailing health, loneliness and despair. Essentially, I feel compelled to help those that are having a hard time helping themselves and working to bring some hope, smiles and happiness to their lives. With aging parents and friends my focus on the elderly has amplified recently but I have been involved with youth athletics most of my adult life.
2. How did you become personally invested?
As a young man, I was deeply involved in sports and for a time it was my world - a top priority. I remember so many great men who coached me as a young kid and through high school who had such a profound effect on me--not just developing me as an athlete, but helping me become a better human being. I was so fortunate and learned so much about life from those men who coached me, they cared about the game and the sport but more importantly they cared about me as a person. I have two great sons who I had the pleasure to coach for many years. These are some of the most rewarding years of my life. I felt like I made a positive impact on their lives. It was more than just sports. Many of these kids came from difficult situations, and many needed some direction in their lives. Sports provided that outlet where they could escape, be part of something special, gain some confidence, smile and often times improve and excel. It meant so much to me as a kid I wanted to give back and try to do my part in helping develop great young boys into great young men.
3. What do you do to show your support?
Unfortunately, there is no time to coach anymore, but I still like to support youth sports. I worry at times that youth sports continue to fade and that kids’ perception of sports is what they see on TV and ESPN. Kids need the dedication and time of great role models who can not only teach the game but help teach them about life. The minds and hearts of young kids are what are at stake here. I still like to support fundraising for youth sports, especially for those communities or families that can’t afford to make it happen. I can’t resist to hobble out of my car in my suit when I get home to throw the ball around or shoot some hoops with a neighborhood kid. To see that smile is worth the aches and pains the next day!
4. Can you share a story when you realized your efforts were making a difference?
I was in the Boston airport not long ago when young man named Brian approached me, stuck out his hand and said, “Hey, Coach McDonald.” I had not seen Brian in probably ten years and there he was: all grown up, starting a career, married and a kid on the way. Despite that he still called me “coach.” He went on to say what a great experience he had with me and we spent the next 15 minutes reminiscing and telling stories about the great couple of seasons we had together on the ballfield. Brian said those couple of years together with that team helped prepare him for growing up, learning some life lessons and developing relationships with his teammates that still exist today. He said those years were some of most cherished times of his childhood and hopes that his children can experience something like that one day. Pretty cool!
5. Why is it important to you to give your time to others?
Well, time--to me--is the great equalizer. We were all created with different talents and skills; we all come from different backgrounds and cultures, different beliefs, and priorities. We also come from various educations and socio-economic conditions. The one thing we all have in common, however, is that everyone is only given 24 hours each day. The differentiator is how we choose to use that time. I believe it is perhaps our most precious asset, can never be replenished or renewed - we can’t go to the mall and buy some more time. Because of this, I feel it is the most impactful way to show others you care. Without question there are many people that can benefit from our talents and treasure, but the lasting effect of just spending time with someone--a young child or an elderly person--never fades. It stays embedded in their hearts and minds forever. Sending a check, gift or flowers can create a smile, but soon after can fade or be forgotten. My sense is spending time with people, ignoring our phones for a stretch, really focusing on another person in need, and making them feel like they are the most important person in your life is the most important and impactful thing you can do for someone.