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Ian Desmond reflects on what's most important

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As we faced the challenges of 2020 from COVID-19 to social injustice, many of us looked within to examine our priorities and reevaluate our lifestyles.

When Ian Desmond opted out of the 2020 MLB season as an outfielder for the Colorado Rockies, he found himself back in his hometown of Sarasota, Florida, reflecting on what means the most to him - family and community.

Ian spent his childhood on Sarasota's ballfields. Some of the most influential moments of his life happened as he rounded third base or sat in the bleachers.

"I had the most heartbreak and the most fulfillment right there on those fields - in the same exact place," Ian says. "I felt the hurt of racism, the loneliness of abandonment and so many other emotions. But I also felt the triumph of success. The love of others. The support of a group of men pulling for each other and picking one another up as a team."

While he developed the fundamental skills that eventually propelled his baseball career into the major leagues, Ian learned the importance of having positive, adult role models and mentors who believed in his full potential.

"I remember being upset about an out or something when I was a kid, and my coach, John Howard, wrapped me in an embrace so strong I can still remember how his arms felt around me," Ian says. "How it felt to be hugged like that; embraced by a man who cared about the way I was feeling."

Ian is seeking to provide that same level of impact to local youth through America's beloved pastime. He shared his vision with his neighbor and retired business professional, Vince Northfield. Together, they led meaningful discussions with individuals in the community who are committed to ensuring all youth have access to life-changing opportunities, including leaders from Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties.

"We set out to capture the voice of the community, listening along the way, better understanding the wants and needs specific to them," Ian says. "What we’ve found out is that people are ready for bold, innovative and creative ideas that will push society forward."

As a result, Ian and Vince launched Newtown Connection in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties.

"Our vision is simple and clear," Ian says. "Use sport as a means to give kids the tools necessary to grow and become the change we are all eager to see."

The mission of Newtown Connection is to provide a mechanism for Professional Athletes, both active and retired, to bring communities together to create a culture of inclusivity and acceptance through Sports, Health and Education, while providing an unwavering commitment to the youth of their respective communities.

Newtown Connection uses sport as a means to give kids the tools necessary to grow and become the change we are all eager to see.

Currently, the program runs twice a week at our Newtown Estates Park Boys & Girls Club. While Newtown Connection is introducing baseball to nearly 70 Club members, the program also instills invaluable life skills such as teamwork and sportsmanship, as well as, healthy lifestyles and morals.

"We're surrounding kids with energetic, loving, educated and trained mentors... teaching baseball, healthy lifestyle habits, teamwork and good sportsmanship in a new and exciting, fun and engaging way," says Ian. "I am proud of these partnerships and know that as a team we will make a great impact on the next generation of Sarasota youth."

We see the impact of Newtown Connection going far beyond the fences thanks to Ian's visionary leadership. Click here to discover how you can help make a difference in the lives of the children benefiting from this partnership or witness the impact of the program for yourself. Call 941-366-3911 to schedule a visit today.

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