The Integrated Athletic Initiative, a new nonprofit organization, has teamed with the pre-existing Because We Can Sports league which unites special needs, underprivileged, and mainstream youth in sporting events. According to SILive, Gateway Church hosted the first of a four-game basketball season for the Because We Can Sports basketball league. At each game, participating players have a chance to showcase their skills and enjoy the fun experience among friends.
The Because We Can Sports league was founded by Anthony Passalacqua and Sal Fabozzi who are also heading the Integrated Athletic Initiative. They share a passion for helping special needs youth and young adults discover their talents and experience fun-filled sports. The goal of the effort is to “provide sports teams, events, leagues, and quality instruction to bridge the gap between underprivileged, special needs, and mainstream youth and young adults.”
Over 200 guests turned up to watch the first basketball game of the season and support the young athletes. Four teams made up of 40 players in total, ages 5 to 30, took over the court in two separate games. In between the games, participants conducted a ribbon cutting ceremony to thank the donors who made the event possible. Some sponsors of the event included North Central Kiwanis, Law office of Scamardella, Gervasi and Kasegrande P.C, Matt Jablonsky from Coldwell Banker Real Estate, St. Joseph-by-the-Sea high school, and Lawrence Schau Jr. Passalacqua also thanked the District Attorney of Staten Island, Michael McMahon, the South Shore Kiwanis, and their board members.
Fabozzi explained, “it’s something that we’ve been passionate about since we started working together, but never put it into words…now we’ve decided to actually make it an organization so that others that are passionate about helping special needs kids or underprivileged kids can do that through our organization.”
The program has been an incredible success, and Passalacqua and Fabozzi plan to hold more events in the future with the added strength of the Integrated Athletic Initiative. Bringing youth together in a positive environment provides a unique learning experience for everyone involved. Building friendships and finding mentors provides youth with extraordinary encouragement and motivation to participate in events that highlight their skills and be a part of a team. The Because We Can Sports league and the Integrated Athletic Initiative are changing the lives of so many people by surrounding them with positivity and optimism through teamwork.