Sports brings a community together

Mandy_Kruger_Royals - ALCSWhat are you passionate about?  I’d heard the question many times.  It’s the question you’re typically asked when searching for an organization you can help to serve in a volunteer capacity.  I’ve had the pleasure of serving on the Kansas City Sports Commission Young Professionals Advisory Group for the last three years.  For years, I had watched my boss with envy from afar serve on the Board of Directors for the Sports Commission.  “Sports” is what always popped in my head when asked “What are you passionate about?”  I have to confess, I was always hesitant to admit that.  I mean, what kind of a person says they are passionate about sports over the more obvious pressing social needs in our community?  I have always been an athlete.  I have always been incredibly competitive.  It has been a drive in most everything I have done in my education and career.  Sports have been the vehicle for some of my strongest relationships and most memorable life experiences.

Mandy_Shane_RayThis experience with the Sports Commission has been wonderful for me to see the passion the organization exudes.  I dare to say there is no denying that Sports brings communities together in a way almost nothing else can.  In the last three years with the success of Sporting KC, FC Kansas City, Chiefs and who can forget the magical run of the Royals last year (and this year too!), our city is united in a way that I have never seen as a born and bred native.  I wholeheartedly believe the cultural and economic renaissance this city is experiencing is in a significant way due to that cohesive sense of community sports can and has triggered.

The first question I asked, and get asked is always, “Well, what do they actually do?”  If you have ever been tasked with coordinating an event, you have an idea of the amount of work and coordination it takes to be a success.  I challenge you then to multiply that by about 100.  Think Big 12 tournament, think KC marathon, think “The parade that almost was” for our beloved Royals.  There is no magical wing of the City government that our taxes pay to pull these off.  The Kansas City Sports Commission with their staff and spectacular volunteers are the engine that drives these events.  And all funded privately, mind you, dependent upon community support both in manpower and sponsorship.  The amazing, heavy lifting, behind the scenes work the Sports Commission does to bring world class sporting events, experiences and opportunities to our town cannot be understated.  My experience these last few years to see this “behind the curtain” work from this group has even further solidified my immense passion for Sports and is incredibly inspiring to encourage others to support their mission.

By Mandy Kruger, Vice President and Corporate Controller, J.E. Dunn Construction Company