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I began this process alone, but far from lonely in Dubovi Makharyntsi, a village I hold dear in central Ukraine. Full-bellied with borsch, I remember pondering about education while lying in bed in Olga’s small Ukrainian house during the coldest winter on my life.

 That winter was harsh but the people were kind. Everyday they greeted me with golden-teeth filled smiles, handshakes, and “Dobry Dens”. I felt at ease and truly fulfilled in a place so foreign. Their people made it so. It was a very special time in my life. This ease and space allowed me to think broadly of what I am most passionate about- kids and their development.

 My focus for many years has been teaching kids the tools to live a healthy and happy life. Much of what I believe is that the teaching is done by “living” that life. John Wooden once recited a favorite rhyme that stuck with me-

 “No written word or spoken plea will teach our youth who they shall be, or all the books on all the shelves it’s who the teachers are themselves.”

 It’s who the teachers are themselves.

 Who are the “teachers”? The teachers are “us” all.

 And who are the “healthy” teachers? Where are they? And how do we get them in front of kids?

 That is what I pondered with a full belly in Ukraine.

 Who are the healthy teachers? Student-athletes! Where are they? They are in each and every state!

 And how do we get them in front of kids? Then an “ah ha” moment!

 We build a social network connecting student-athletes with classroom teachers. We create member profiles that match a teacher’s needs with a student’s skills and availability. We simplify the process. We put faces with our names. We personalize our teachers and our volunteers. We create real connections with technology and we support our nation’s kids.

 These thoughts have fascinated me for the past two and half years. They are the foundation of what I still build on today.

Last week I received notification from the IRS that those thoughts in my head in Ukraine, now are a recognized nonprofit organization.  So the journey continues.

 My hope is to engage you in thinking about our nation’s kids and what we can do as community members in sparking their hearts and minds in living the lives of their dreams.