A Good Sweat, Indeed: Nonprofit Combines Philanthropy, Athletics

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/5/2016 12:05:39 AM
Modified: 5/5/2016 12:07:00 AM

With an improved guest list and more events and activities scheduled, Nini Meyer is hoping this year’s Sweat for Good summit will truly hit it out of the park.

An annual two-day event bringing together philanthropists and young athletes for a series of discussions, games and workshops, Sweat for Good will begin Friday at Fenway Park’s State Street Pavilion and continue Saturday at Boston’s Hotel Commonwealth.

Meyer — a Lyme resident and founder of Positive Tracks, a Hanover-based nonprofit that works to empower the charitable causes of young athletes through a variety of programs and outreach — thinks this year’s summit will be the organization’s best yet.

“We’re really excited to be having (Friday’s festivities) at Fenway,” said Meyer, who founded Positive Tracks seven years ago. “It makes sense to have Sweat for Good at an iconic sports venue that has amazing energy and history.”

Among the more than 200 invited guests are actor Patrick Dempsey, a Maine native and founder of the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing, and two-time Olympic skier Doug Lewis.

Dempsey will highlight Friday’s round-table discussion panel that also features Boys & Girls Club of Boston president & CEO Josh Kraft, Tuck School of Business student Nicole Burns and a youth ambassador list including 19-year-old Mason McNulty, a Hanover High graduate now attending Haverford College, and Meyer’s son, Jasper, a Hanover High sophomore.

After a game of “blow pong” — a game in which competitors try to score goals and eliminate opponents by pushing pingpong balls with inspired breathing — Lewis will host the Sweaty Awards to honor individuals and organizations who have partnered with Positive Tracks to make the most impact in their communities.

“(Lewis) is like the Energizer bunny; he’s a ton of fun,” Meyer said. “(Dempsey) is, too. He promised to be wearing his ‘good boogie’ shoes, so I think we can expect him to get people dancing.”

Saturday will center on the core of Positive Tracks’ mission, with a series of think-tank discussions and open conversations about ways to engage people in physically active philanthropy. Positive Tracks employs a number of methods to encourage this, such as matching donor programs, free consultation and electronic fundraising platforms.

Grassroot Soccer communications director Molly McHugh, former ski Olympian Edie Morgan and others will be part of the morning think tank in Boston.

“It will be a discussion about how we get this generation of young people to get involved in charitable programs that really resonate with them,” Meyer said. “You do that by encouraging them to take a leadership role. They don’t want to be a cog in someone else’s wheel, so the key is to encourage them to act on areas that they’re already innately passionate about.”

Norwich-based Grassroot Soccer, which advocates for health through programs involving soccer, is a perfect example of using a passion to do good, Meyer said.

“What Grassroot Soccer does is absolutely awesome, but young people are passionate about a lot of things,” Meyer said. “You might be passionate about running. You might be passionate about doing burpees. So why not put together something called the Burpee Challenge that could raise funding and awareness for something that you care about?

“That’s why we try to clear barriers to teach young people about how to get started with these kinds of initiatives.”

Burns, a Tuck student and former track and field sprinter at Brown University, will be part of an afternoon think tank focused on inclusivity — getting the most youth involved in philanthletics as possible.

“Inclusivity is about engaging young people who might otherwise go under the radar, people from communities that may lack resources,” Meyer said. “Some of these communities might have trouble finding green grass to play on, let alone the wherewithal to organize these events to sweat for good.

“The other part of it is that sometimes kids simply don’t identify themselves as being athletes, and how do you mobilize them? It’s all about coming up with tangible solutions to reach out to as many young people as possible.”

Admission to the Sweat for Good Summit is free and by invitation. Those interested in attending may contact Liz Gray by emailing lgray@positivetracks.org to be added to the guest list.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3225.

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