Young Athletes Relief Fund

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Learn more about an organization helping kids gain access to sporting programs and other activities families can’t afford. Jaime Canedo, president and founder of Young Athletes Relief Fund talks about the organization.

Jose Cardenas: If your kids are involved in sports or after school activities it can become very expensive. For some families the increasing costs can keep children from participating in these activities. One valley father started an organization that's helping families support activities. Here now is Jaime Canedo, founder and CEO of Young Athletes Relief Fund. Jaime, welcome to "Horizonte."

Jaime Canedo: Thank you for having me.

Jose Cardenas: Why did you start this organization?

Jaime Canedo: As a soccer coach, I coached one of my daughters in soccer. She loves soccer and I've been blessed coaching soccer. It's been a blessing coaching kids. I saw many kids were being left out because of the rising costs of league fees and things like that, it wasn't just soccer, all the sports. Even in schools now, leagues, you name it, even in the arts the rising cost is keeping kids out. So I thought about the idea, threw it around, and people thought it was great. They got behind me, my wife supported me, she's my vice president and off we went and started the Young Athletes Relief Fund. This year we're changing it to the young athletes and artists relief fund because now we're expanding to help kids in the arts as well.

Jose Cardenas: How many have you helped so far?

Jaime Canedo: Last year we helped approximately 20 kids, it all varied from basketball players, we helped some kids in swimming. We started a swimming program over the summertime which we thought was a great activity. It's a sport, can turn into a sport for kids. Being in Arizona in the valley, we have a high number of drownings unfortunately with kids. We started a program and partnered with private instructors. Thanks to some scholarship, some money, and with the help of the instructors, we were able to provide free swim lesson for the kids. We will continue this program this year at a very, very low rate to, encourage kids in swimming and help prevent drowning.

Jose Cardenas: So there's no particular sport that you focus on. It's families in need that come to you and say, our son, our daughter would like to play in a particular sport but there's a fee we can't afford?

Jaime Canedo: Correct. Whether it's tennis, volleyball, soccer, they might say hey, I can put two of my kids in, just can't afford my third. So then we have them fill out a little packet, one page a couple questions, just to make sure that they fit the criteria. Because obviously we'd love to help everybody but we're a small fish in a big pond. We're limited by the funds we have. We just want to make sure they fit the criteria. And if they do, we'll give them whatever we can. If we can give them the whole fee to put them through, or if not we give them at least half. But half is better than nothing. So it's a big help to someone in need, especially underprivileged kids.

Jose Cardenas: What are the criteria?

Jaime Canedo: Well, it depends. You know, there's kids that live in higher tax brackets in the area but they may have their own struggles. We might find out why is it that you can't afford it, depending on income. They might have other reasons, something traumatic has happened in their family and now they are just left short. Other parts of the Valley, you know, the income, low-income families just cannot afford to put their children in sports. Or again, they may have a group of kids but can't put them all. So they need some of them helped and that's something we would like to help out with.

Jose Cardenas: Is the program limited geographically? Or are there certain parts of the valley you focus on?

Jaime Canedo: No, we're actually trying to expand to everywhere from the North side of the Valley to the South side of the valley. We've helped out kids as far as North Peoria all the way down to the South Mountain Little League. We gave them a check last year to help them continue to put kids in their summer baseball programs. And also we're giving out checks and money trying raise money to help places like South mountain Little League that struggle a little bit, because of their area, to help them revamp their fields and revamp their equipment and all that stuff, as well. So it's coming along, but we've got a lot of work ahead of us.

Jose Cardenas: We've got some pictures of some of the people you've been able to help. We'll put them on the screen as we're talking.

Jaime Canedo: Okay.

Jose Cardenas: You mentioned that you've expanded the program. We've got a picture here, is that you?

Jaime Canedo: That's actually me and my daughter. You know, she's -- my kids are an inspiration. Again, I'm truly blessed being able to coach, being able to afford to put my kids in sports. But I know being a single income, my wife is a stay-at-home mom right now, how hard it is to keep that up, having to work extra hours of overtime.

Jose Cardenas: And you had mentioned that you're kind of expanding the program to artists. Here we have a picture of a young ballerina?

Jaime Canedo: That's, that's Abbie, she was one of the last we gave a scholarship to at the end of the year. She also plays the harp. I don't know if you're aware but I found out that a harp is very expensive. She absolutely loves it, plays beautifully on the harp.

Jose Cardenas: What is the money used for, to pay her school fees?

Jaime Canedo: To pay to get her some ballet shoes and for her harp. She comes from a family of seven sisters and one brother. So you can imagine how that must be on the parents. So she was putting on her own fund-raiser and she's 16 years old. We thought, you know what, this kid being motivated to put on her own fundraiser, seeing how motivated she is, we had to help her. We reached out and gave her a check to help her. I believe she put it toward a pair of point shoes for ballet. They cost from $100 to $150 a pair.

Jose Cardenas: We have pictures of other kids helped in the sports. We are soccer players and basketball players. For them, is it equipment? Is it paying the entry fees for the teams they are on or what?

Jaime Canedo: Yes. Actually since we started it's been basically the registration fees for the most part that they need help with. We'll help out however we can. We want the kids -- we have titled our motto keeping the dream alive. That's what we want kids to do. Earlier on the show you had a guest with kids involved with human trafficking. We are trying to reach out to show kids we want to help them keep their dreams alive and stay in sports, or even the arts.

Jose Cardenas: Why the arts? You seem like you've got your hands full on sports.

Jaime Canedo: We know not every kid has big dreams of being an athlete. Perhaps they want to be a big musician or an artist. We've partnered with some artists, my wife loving the arts as well as myself, we've partnered with some people from the cultural coalition, Carmen and Zarco Guerrero, who are just fantastic people that are helping us get the word out there to Latino communities, trying to reach them and help out kids in the arts, as well they are also helping us reach kids in those areas of the community with sports, as well.

Jose Cardenas: We've put your website up, helpchildrenplay.com. I take it people can go there, I think if they would go there, you're a 501(C)3?

Jaime Canedo: Correct.

Jose Cardenas: You're a non-profit. They can make tax deductible contributions.

Jaime Canedo: Absolutely. We've grown tremendously. People want our help but we need the support. We absolutely could use the donations if you can help us with them, because it's -- we're growing faster than we anticipated, which is a good thing. But we definitely are looking for the support of the people.

Jose Cardenas: Hopefully people watching the show will be motivated to do that. Thank you so much for joining the show tonight.

Jaime Canedo: Thank you very much.

Jose Cardenas: That is our show for tonight. From all of us here at Eight and "Horizonte," thank you for watching I'm Jose Cardenas. Have a good evening.

Video: Funding for "Horizonte" is made possible by the contributions by the Friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS station.

Jaime Canedo:President and Founder, Young Athletes Fund;

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