Providing kids an opportunity to participate in sports
There are a multitude of positive benefits that come with youth involvement in athletics. Whether a child wins or loses, they leave the game with important life lessons. Sports not only allows a child to live out a healthy active lifestyle, but it also allows them to learn important social and emotional skills. Sports helps a child develop friendships, join a community and learn the importance of teamwork. Unfortunately many Arizona kids do not have easy access to participate in sports, the money to afford sports equipment or the opportunity to attend sporting events. Mark Roden and Subway have made it one of their goals to help provide access to sports for Arizona kids.
Mark Roden is a local Arizona Subway franchisee. Roden was inspired to run his own company following a conversation he had with his father about his father’s dream of owning his own business. His father passed away five months later.
“I thought often about his dream and it inspired me to take that shot at the entrepreneurial opportunity at Subway,” Roden says.
Roden now owns 53 Subway restaurants in Arizona and five in Hawaii. He runs all of the restaurants from the Desert Subway headquarters located in Chandler.
Roden and Subway decided to start the organization Subway Kids & Sports of Arizona in order to give back to the Arizona community.
“The mission of Subway Kids & Sports of Arizona is to provide sports equipment, uniforms, registration fees and access to major sporting events for those who might not otherwise be able to participate,” Roden says.
The organization began in 1999, and since then has impacted the lives of over 25,000 kids and families.
One special sports moment Roden experienced as a child was when his father took him out of school to go watch the Minnesota State High School hockey tournament. That day Roden and his father watched four hockey games with a combined eight overtimes. The last game continued past midnight and they stayed until the end.
“Going to sporting events and bonding with my dad is definitely one of my favorite moments, and one reason why I think sports is so important for kids and families today,” Roden says.
Fundraising events and grants
In order to make sports more accessible for Arizona kids, Subway Kids & Sports of Arizona hosts events each year. Along with their partners Dasani Water, Subway, Shamrock Farms and the Be Kind People Project, they host the Cycle for Success program which begins in August. The program awards two students each month for performing random acts of kindness. The children are awarded new bikes, along with helmets and locks. The Cycle for Success program is Roden’s favorite aspect of the organization.
“Going into schools throughout the state and connecting with students there is not only a program highlight for me, but quite simply the best day every month,” he says.
The group also hosts an annual Subway Kids & Sports Golf Tournament and Top Golf Takeover which is planned to take place in October. They are still currently in need of sponsors.
Subway Kids & Sports of Arizona also has an annual grant program.
“Since 1999, Subway Kids & Sports of Arizona has raised funds to provide annual grants to nonprofit organizations focused on helping children gain access to sports, sports equipment, registration fees and more,” Roden says. “Former recipients of the grants include Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Arizona, Gene Lewis Boxing Club, Arizona Friends of Foster Children and Ball for All.
The organization plans to award over $45,000 in grant money to local nonprofits this year and will announce the 2016 recipients in the upcoming months.
Like Roden’s childhood hockey memory, Subway Kids & Sports of Arizona is working hard to give each child the opportunity to make their own memories by playing a sport or sitting in the stands to watch their local team. Subway Kids & Sports of Arizona believes basic sports skills: teamwork, commitment and accountability help kids throughout their lives.
To learn how you can get involved with Subway Kids & Sports of Arizona, visit Subwaykidsandsportsaz.com.