As time ticked off the clock at the United Center on June 15, more than 20,000 rabid fans (joined by millions more across the city and country) erupted as the Stanley Cup returned to Chicago for the third time in the past six seasons. Everywhere you looked Chicagoans were decked out in red and black. No matter their profession, their income or their address, everyone was in style.  The city converted to a one phrase language where “Let’s Go Hawks” was spoken by all.  High fives were exchanged by complete strangers – who may have never spoken at all if it was not for their mutual love of sport. The Blackhawks again united a city and made it seem – if only for a moment- that all is right in the world. And we at Good Sports could not be more proud of Advisory Board member Stan Bowman and his team’s accomplishment.

While the excitement created by the Stanley Cup win will not soon fade, the “real world” will slowly creep back. Blackhawks sweaters will be exchanged for suits or uniforms and the clock watching will be the clock tied to our jobs.

This “Chicago real world” is also home to 31% of children that live below the federally established poverty line, according to CityData.com. These same children, likely watching the Blackhawks game with their families and maybe dreaming of hoisting the Stanley Cup above their heads one day, ironically may not be able to even play sports due to family financial limitations, inadequate school resources or a lack of focus on healthy activity. Some of these children cannot even play or exercise in their neighborhoods due to threats of gang violence.

These children are why Good Sports has focused on Chicago. In 2014, Good Sports impacted more than 100,000 deserving children across the city with more than $500,000 of new sports and fitness equipment. Good Sports is well on its way to another record year in this city where so many children not only need, but deserve, the “gift of play.” Good Sports will not stop until every child in this city has the resources necessary to live healthier, more active lives.

Good Sports has been welcomed to this city, much like the Stanley Cup.  Maybe the fanfare is not the same and maybe we are not a household name – yet. But once the Good Sports story is shared, we create fans. Fans that want to get involved and make a difference.

With continued support from Chicago’s generous corporations, foundations and residents, maybe the next NHL Champion will hail from Englewood, Garfield Park, Pullman or another Chicago neighborhood in need. And, even if that scenario never becomes reality, imagine the smiles on the faces of children across Chicago as they score their first goal and raise an invisible trophy over their head. Not the Stanley Cup celebration, but still a celebration worthy of cheers from the masses.

Plain and simple, Chicago is a (Good) Sports city.

Inspired? Ready to get involved? There are three easy ways to join the Good Sports Team in Chicago:

1. Follow Good Sports on Facebook (Good Sports), Twitter (@goodsportsinc) and LinkedIn (Good Sports Inc.). Not only will you inspire others to do the same, you will stay aware of our success and impact in Chicago (and across the country).

2. Donate and contribute the gift of play. Remember, a gift of $20 gets another child off the streets, off the couch and in the game. Good Sports, thanks to established relationships with top sports equipment, apparel and footwear manufacturers, is able to provide at least $2 of brand new equipment for every dollar donated.

3. Mark your calendar for September 24 and join us for the 7th Annual Chicago Legends of the Ball. Our 2015 event will be held at the Museum of Broadcast Communications and will attract over 300 guests inspired to give back. Tickets can be purchased on www.goodsports.org and you can make a difference while enjoying one of the city’s best nonprofit celebrations!

– Dave Whorton, Chicago Market Director