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Not a field trip but an experience

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Not a field trip but an experience

Alex Kramer, [email protected]

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Children who otherwise would probably never get to see the inside of a major sporting event are now getting the chance to see one sitting right in the middle of the action.

Alex Sheck, a University of Iowa student, and his father are able to do this through their nonprofit called Experience the Game.

“It’s a nonprofit organization that takes underprivileged kids to professional sporting events and gives them unique experiences,” said Sheck, the president and co-founder of Experience the Game. “Rather than just taking a large group like a field trip, we take a small group and really make it special for the kids and provide unique experiences like going on the field or court to meet players and coaches.”

Sheck said the kids selected must fit a certain criteria — they must be between age 8 and 17, in school, a deserving child, have never been to a professional sporting event, and show potential and leadership.

The organization partners with Boys and Girls Club of America to help pick participants.

“Since we’re not working with the kids every day, we pass along our criteria to the Boys and Girls Club, then they help us select the kids based on that criteria from the local community, wherever the event is taking place,” he said. “If we’re working an event with the Lakers, the kids would be from Los Angeles. We always want to give back in the community where the event is taking place.”

Callie Howard, employee at the Boys and Girls Club, said Experience the Game was a great benefit to kids.

“If it weren’t for Experience the Game, they wouldn’t have opportunities like that,” she said. “I think it’s good for them to go over there and get to see that type of stuff instead of just hearing about it from other people, other kids in their class.”

The charity launched when Sheck was a freshman, and the inspiration behind came from a trip taken with his father when he was in high school.

“He said that he would love to be able to give back or help people that are less fortunate, and give them an opportunity to do what we had on our trip,” said Michael Sheck, co-founder and Alex Sheck’s father. “So we kind of talked and said let’s figure out if this is something we can do.”

Michael Sheck said the duo looked into starting a charity while Alex was still in high school, but they couldn’t get started for a few years. After that, the nonprofit took off.

“Our first event was with the Chicago Sky WNBA team,” he said. “Since then, we’ve had maybe over 30 events now and have taken almost 300 kids all across the country, and worked with the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Miami Dolphins, Carolina Hurricanes, really all over the country.”

There have been more than 30 Experience the Games so far involving various sports such as soccer, baseball, basketball, hockey, and golf.

“The last event we just had was the Iowa football game,” Sheck said. “In the interview when the kids were put on the spot, one of them said, ‘I never get to do anything like this,’ and the other felt so special that she said, ‘We’re the only two out of everybody in Iowa who got picked to do this’. So it’s something special, it brings tears to our eyes and that’s what really keeps us going.”

Experience the Game aims to create an unforgettable time that will stand out in the children’s lives, he said.

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