In many ways, Michael Amadio is your typical 14-year-old, spending his days playing with friends, studying, or at football practice.
But unlike other Hough High School freshmen, Michael runs his own charity organization, Share a Sport, and is busy collecting sporting goods and equipment for kids in need all over the world.
The project began last year, when Amadio heard that parishioners from his home church of St. Albans Episcopal Church in Davidson were taking a mission trip to Costa Rica. Amadio recalled the time he spent in countries such as Mexico and the Dominican Republic, where he encountered conditions that looked vastly different from his comfortable life in Lake Norman.
“I was shocked by what I saw and wanted to help,” he said. Being an athlete himself, he began to think about how Costa Rica was a soccer-crazy country, and thought about making a donation of soccer balls might help to bring some happiness to those who lived there.
Amadio reached out to neighbors, recreation leagues, and Davidson College to ask for donations, and wound up collecting 43 soccer balls. He sent 20 to Costa Rica and 23 to Mexico through Alpha Omega Aviation Ministry.
Along the way, he learned some important lessons, including perseverance and setting goals. Not everyone he emailed got back to him right away; he had to send follow-up reminders. He also dealt with some rejection – not everyone was interested in helping – but the process helped him mature.
He even started a website, www.shareasport.com. Amadio felt it was all worthwhile after hearing the positive feedback that came from people who went on the trip, and told him how much the kids enjoyed the soccer balls.
So Amadio got to thinking – why not cast a wider net? He next stepped in to help Access to Success, the nonprofit founded by former Davidson College basketball player Andrew Lovedale.
The group was planning a trip to Nigeria and apparently short some equipment. So Michael reached out again, with one email to Bobby Williams with Nothing But Net, a local nonprofit organization offering youth recreational basketball leagues. Williams was happy to help, donating 22 balls, bringing the total bounty to 72 basketballs sent to Nigeria.
Post-trip, Amadio got to sit down with Lovedale for an “amazing” lunch and talk about Lovedale’s program and experiences in Africa, Amadio said. When Lovedale mentioned that he was trying to build a library in Africa, Amadio knew he had another opportunity he wanted to take advantage of. He’s currently working on collecting books, as well as baseballs, gloves, bases and uniforms.
“It just feels really good to help others,” Amadio said. “I’m going to continue working towards something bigger and better each time.”
Amy Reiss is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Amy? Email her email@example.com.