Editors Note: This is a guest post written by William B. Leonard from Kids2Carolina
While gazing at a section of empty seats during a football game at UNC’s Kenan Stadium, Cody Thompson, organizer of the Kids2Carolina pbogram, had a brainstorm. Why not fill up those seats by providing unused tickets to underprivileged children?
The kids would get a chance to see some great sporting events and have positive exposure to a great university. UNC alumni and fans who purchase tickets but are unable for various reasons to attend a game would have the chance to donate the unused tickets and know that their seats were filled by eager and budding Tar Heel fans. It was simply a win-win proposition.
So in May 2012, the Kids2Carolina program was launched on the UNC fan website, Inside Carolina. Immediate response to the program was strong, and the program received cash donations of nearly $8,000 and more than 825 tickets to UNC athletic events. Once the ball started rolling, Kids2Carolina quickly became an incorporated not-for-profit organization based in Chapel Hill and run largely through the time and efforts of volunteers like Thompson. Volunteers have helped to develop and launch a website (www.kids2carolina.org) and to connect the group with organizations that are willing to help and to promote Kids2Carolina.
“I thought this would be on a small scale and had no idea that it would just take off like this, said Thompson, who is hoping to enroll in the MBA program at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. “I just wanted to help fill the stands at Carolina home games, and I felt this would be an easy and inexpensive way to do it, while making an effort for a good cause. Tar Heel fans at every turn have been so helpful.”
In addition, UNC fans and alumni have donated memorabilia and offered meeting space for Kids2Carolina events.
“The experience of organizing Kids2Carolina truly has been a coming together of some great people with the goal of promoting the program and helping kids,” Thompson said. “It’s been great fun and an honor working with these people.”
Other donors and volunteers to the program agree with Thompson and have been very eager to give their time, money and tickets to the program.
“I am so excited about Kids2Carolina and the opportunity it offers kids. The program brings back some great memories,” said Eddie West an alumnus of UNC. “Years ago when I was a UNC student, I had a couple of unused tickets. As I was about to enter Kenan Stadium, there were two young boys standing just outside the fence looking in. I gave them my extras and the looks on their faces made it worth it all. This program is doing that kind of thing in such a big way.”
Other Tar Heels agree with West.
“Kids 2 Carolina is a subliminal educational experience about a young person walking across UNC’s campus for the very first time and an educational light bulb goes off and they say to themselves: ‘Hey I kind of like this college scene.’” said Bill Ipock who graduated from Carolina in 1971 and is now a football season ticket holder and donor to the program.
“I loved going to UNC games when I was a kid and did everything that I could to make sure I could make the next one on the calendar. Kids2Carolina has the same mentality, giving kids the opportunity to see a live collegiate sporting event when they normally would not have that chance. Allowing these kids to see and experience the atmosphere of a college campus first hand hopefully will encourage them to stay on top of their schoolwork and strive to continue their education to higher levels,” said Joey Hoying, UNC class of 2003
Currently, Kids2Carolina has more requests than it has tickets for Tar Heel sporting events. If you would like to get involved or make a donation of tickets or money please visit the programs website at http://kids2carolina.org/donate/
William B. Leonard is a freelance writer based in Asheville, N.C. and graduated from UNC-CH in 1979.