Healthy Futures Game Changer Campaign helps disadvantaged youth athletes get in the game

Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 7:52 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Sometimes the most difficult part of sports for a young athlete is just getting out there on the field, court, ice or trails — and that can often stem from a lack of resources and funding. The Healthy Futures Game Changer Campaign is looking to bridge that gap by tapping on over 30 Alaskan athletes, ambassadors and advocates to use their platforms and help raise $50,000 this week to benefit disadvantaged youth athletes across the state.

”At the bare minimum, it just means that we are helping a child build some life habits that are going to really help them,” Executive Director Harlow Robinson said. ”We started the Game Changer fund about a year ago and one of the things that has always been a priority for the Healthy Futures program is addressing the health equity challenge of making sure that the kids and families that need services the most have the access to those services.”

Notable figures using their voice to steer supporters to the campaign include Olympians Alev Kelter and Holly Brooks, Paralympian Andrew Kurka, former professional hockey player Matt Carle, Iditarod mushers Anna and Kristy Berrington, basketball standout Tobin Karlberg, Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink, and many more community members, like Anchorage Wolverines head coach Evan Trupp, who understands the expenses of hockey growing up around the rinks of Alaska.

”Hockey is an expensive sport for anyone, with travel expenses, gear, equipment, sticks, it’s incredible how expensive it can get,” the former Alaska Aces skater said. ”I think people have a missed opportunity if they can’t afford it so it’s very important for our community to get involved.”

Through the Game Changer Fund, families, players, coaches, teachers and teams can apply for grants up to $500 that can go towards anything from sports equipment, registration fees, transportation support or simply, just a pair of sneakers.

“As a coach, especially at a school like East High School, there is a lot of extra work that goes into it to get these kids on the pitch and playing,” Anchorage Youth Soccer Technical Director, East Anchorage High School soccer coach and Healthy Futures Game Changer ambassador Jo Reid said. ”It breaks my heart when I hear people say I can’t afford it, or I can’t get a ride, or I don’t have equipment. I see kids come to practice with their cleats taped up with duct tape and not complaining about it and so those are the kids you definitely want to help and give them a little extra here and there so they can get off on the right foot like everybody else.”

The athletes, sports and areas it benefits are about as diverse as the state.

”We have kids from rural Alaska that we were able to help them out with getting them a pair of basketball shoes, sending a girl off to equestrian camp, we had a community on the Yukon River, Rampart, that we helped them get a program started to help kids learn the fundamentals of dog mushing, a high school wrestling team at Redington with a high percentage of low-income students, we were able to help them get set up with wrestling shoes, so it is just really a mixed bag.”

The campaign runs through Friday, Oct. 23 and those interested in donating or applying for a grant can visit