In 2002 Rick Leonetti was elected president of Council Rock North High School Football Booster Club and started on a mission to get student athletes and booster members to help others who are less fortunate. What started as club volunteer work with the Special Olympics has grown into the Regional charity: Athletes Helping Athletes.
The mission of Athletes Helping Athletes, Inc. is to connect local special needs athletes with mainstream student-athletes in the spirit of friendship for their mutual benefit and inspiration. AHA, Inc. believes that a world of greater acceptance for all can begin with our children, sharing athletic experiences and a love for sport while developing compassion and mutual respect. Founded in 2001 Athletes Helping Athletes (AHA) provides funding to special needs organizations throughout Bucks County while building awareness, and offering extra-curricular events.
For many children with special needs finding social acceptance can be challenging. “We started to find opportunity through a series of sports programs for special needs children when we met Rick Leonetti who introduced us to the world of AHA. What a great idea…. What a better way to bridge the gap of social acceptance than to partner typical peers with special needs children in one of the most universally accepted activities –SPORTS.” Roseann Fox
Rick has worked tirelessly raising tens of thousands of dollars and organizing AHA events like Football Fun Nights, Soccer Fun Days, and Spring Training Baseball Days where students from main stream schools and those from the special needs community can get together to play ball, have fun, and build friendships. “Jen discovered a bit about herself and how helping others can bring a sense of goodness, self worth, and satisfaction that is hard to match. These experiences are helping her understand what she wants to pursue as a career path.” Bernie.
These events help to build a community for special needs athletes and their families. Building confidence, and providing a place for special needs athletes to fulfill their desire to participate in sports. “Dylans confidence is through the roof right now…..[he] has been practicing baseball practicing baseball since the baseball clinic and has been non-stop talking about his Pirates team.” Diane
With out the persistent efforts of Rick Leonetti this amazing organization would not be in existence today, he has touch the lives of many in his community and exemplified greatness to many young students.
*** Quotes/excerpts in this article have been taken from testimonials found on the Athletes Helping Athletes site. To read the full stories sent to AHA please visit: AthletesHelpingAthletes.com and click on the “Testimonials” link on the left hand side.