Front row: Ken Walsh (left), owner/operator of a local Chick-fil-A, presents a grant to Kurt Schwarz (right) of Inspire Sports Camps.
By Daniel Hubbard. staff writer
For Kurt Schwarz, there are two things that can forever impact kids’ lives: Sports and Jesus. As the director of Inspire Sports Camps, Schwarz and his team of volunteers use sports to introduce kids to the life-changing power of the Gospel.
Chick-fil-A recently lended Schwarz a hand in that effort. The Christian-owned fast food company named Inspire Sports Camps a 2021 True Inspiration Award recipient. The award comes with a $50,000 grant.
“It’s absolutely humbling to be recognized in this way because Chick-fil-A is a tremendous company that stands for great things,” said Schwarz, executive director of Inspire Sports Camps. “We hope this is the beginning of corporations supporting Inspire Sports Camps.”
Inspire Sports Camps offers inner-city children in grades 4-11 a chance to connect with volunteer counselors through a variety of sports at Mirror Lake Retreat Center in Milan, New York. Kids are introduced to Jesus through a gospel-focused program by the counselors and speakers that include former professional athletes and collegiate coaches.
Ken Walsh, the owner-operator of the Chick-fil-A restaurant in Teterboro, nominated Inspire Sports Camps for the award. In 2020, thirty-four organizations were awarded True Inspiration Awards, which supported organizations primarily impacting communities of color.
One child whom Schwarz remembers well is a girl from Newark named Emily. When she returned home after attending a camp, her mother and grandmother knew there was something different about her. Emily told her family about Jesus and now all of them go to church together.
“That’s our vision,” Schwarz said. “We’re looking to change one life at a time. Through that change, we know God can do a lot of things.”
Inspire has grown since its founding in 2011. Ninety-three kids attend camps in 2012. In 2019, five-hundred attended. Schwarz have a goal of 650 this year.
The Chick-fil-A grant will allow Schwarz to meet with more prospective volunteers and youth leaders along the East Coast to try and meet the new goal.
Inspire already partners with churches and organizations in Newark, Paterson, Jersey City, Passaic, East Orange, and Camden, the five New York City boroughs, and Philadelphia, among other cities.
“For us, a canoe ride on the lake is just as important as our group time together,” Schwarz said. “That’s when we can get into a kid’s life and get to know them.”