For the LOVE of the Game

Sports has been a language of love and opportunity for me for most of my life. My passion still burns hot when it comes to the values and benefits that sports deliver, and how important it is for young girls to have every opportunity to participate. It’s been a few weeks of pure delight as I am still relishing from the wonderful gathering at the #BlogHer17 event and the great conversation I had with amazing women such as Laurie Hernandez, Jessi Miley-Dyer, Dani Rylan and Gabby Reece. One of the many favorite lines of conversations came from the inimitable Gabby Reece when she said:

“Obviously there’s a lot of things we all need to continue to work on. Not just for women but for humans. I would hope that we take it on with a proactive voice, and I don’t mean a victimized voice… As women, if we could say, ‘This doesn’t feel good, I’m going to do something about it,’ I think that can be a very proactive and powerful thing. All of you have that voice and that ability.”

I was so pleased that for the first time in the history of the BlogHer event there was the decision to bring female athletes to the stage. And, based on what I was fortunate to experience the following week, we may just be seeing a long awaited trend. For at the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, 3 outstanding Olympians generously shared their stories, successes, and struggles. All Gold Medalists—Michelle Kwan, Angela Ruggiero, and Lindsey Vonn took the stage and we were all so inspired by their experiences. The lessons on the fields of competition powerfully transcend as Angela Ruggiero, the 4x Ice Hockey Olympian said,

“Sport is an outlet to shine light on women’s determination & achievement, on the field and off it.”

It was with these women’s great stories in my heart that I headed to Israel for what I knew would be new stories in the process of being written. I am so proud to Chair the Maccabi USA Women’s Open Basketball Team competing in the Maccabiah Games (pictured below). All told, there are 10,000 athletes from 80 countries who have come together to live golden dreams but more importantly to speak the international language that crosses all borders – Sports. Talk about powerful!

And now back home at the beach and I am so looking forward to taking to the court myself. On July 22nd, I will have the privilege to play in the Jacksonville HELPS Celebrity Basketball Tournament against some amazing high school All-Stars to benefit the I’m A Star Foundation. Kudos to the formidable Betty Burney who shines her bright light on the 2,70 0 students in our school district who are homeless and need our help.

How fortunate to have these incredible opportunities, for they speak to the “power of the ball.” That power is uniting nations, building self-confidence, guiding pathways for success, and helping those who are in need. Get out and play, you do not have to be an elite athlete to realize the benefits. I encourage you to watch the ESPY tribute to Eunice Kennedy Shriver as she is posthumously awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, available here. Her amazing 50-year journey to create the Special Olympics, whose mission is to change lives through the joy of sports every day, will inspire you with what incredible commitment and heart can do to change the lives of others. And front and center is the enormous power of the ball.

Keep moving and enjoy the summer!

Also, in case you missed it…

View the #WinningWomen BlogHer17 panel here.

To see the Achieving The Dream panel at the 2017 KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit, click here.

For more information on the Jacksonville HELPS Celebrity Basketball Game and tickets, click here.

And, be sure to follow the Maccabi USA Women’s Basketball–who just won gold!– on Twitter: @maccabi_usawbb

 

 

 

Donna
@DonnaOrender