Matt Stoltz cares deeply about helping others – and it shows. The 19-year-old pedaled into the National Alliance for Youth Sports’ (NAYS) headquarters on Monday, culminating a 1,700 mile bike ride that he tackled to help promote its ONE WORLD. ONE TEAM. initiative which provides new and gently used sports equipment to children in need throughout the U.S. and worldwide.
“When I don’t volunteer or have some sort of job to do to help people my life feels empty,” said Stoltz, whose eight-state, 37-day journey from Wisconsin to Florida included being chased by 106 dogs, changing 13 flat tires and battling scorching heat and suffocating humidity. “I just need to be doing something to help people. Literally I feel that it’s in my blood. I need to do it.”
Stoltz, who will begin his sophomore year at the University of Wisconsin in a few weeks, hatched the idea for this trip more than a year ago.
“I grew up around sports and I love them and they are something I can’t imagine living without,” he said. “These kids that have to tie plastic bags together to make a soccer ball or baseball is such a foreign idea to me so I want to do what I can to grant every child the opportunity to have equipment so they can play and enjoy sports.”
Last year alone NAYS sent more than 8,500 pounds of equipment to children in Nigeria, Guatemala, Morocco, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mexico, the Philippines, Cameroon, Uganda and Ghana, as well as to several communities in need in the U.S.
Through the power of sports NAYS is committed to providing children with positive outlets – via much-needed sports equipment and programming – to help fill their endless hours of free time and reduce the likelihood that they turn to drugs, alcohol, violence and sexual activity.
A unique aspect of ONE WORLD. ONE TEAM. is that individuals who donate equipment are able to choose which community they want their collected items to go to from a featured list that NAYS has identified as most in need.
Individuals then later receive updates which include pictures and letters of thanks from the community leaders about how their donations have improved the youth sports programs in that particular region.