GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michael Sadler Foundation will announce a new initiative during the Spartan Winter Tailgate in downtown Grand Rapids Wednesday.
In July 2016, Michael Sadler, a Forest Hills Northern graduate and former MSU punter, was killed in a car crash in Wisconsin. He was 24 years old.
The Michael Sadler Foundation supports students and athletes through scholarships and other programs.
Salder’s mother, Karen Sadler, is one of the people who helped create the foundation. She believes the new initiative help carry the foundation into the future.
“It’s called GameChang3rs, Empowering Tomorrow’s Leaders. The program is about disrupting the status quo that our students are living with right now and going in and empowering them with tools and techniques so that they can develop character and achieve their own individual potential, feeling comfortable in their skin,” she said.
Karen Sadler points to a note her son wrote to a 5-year-old fan as inspiration for the program.
“(The boy) said you’re my idol. So, Michael signed the picture and he wrote that note back to him. He said, essentially, you never know what somebody else is going through, so every day make it a point to smile and say something nice to other people,” she said. “Every kid today can make a difference. We just have to let them know that, and show them how to do that. That’s what GameChang3rs does with this curriculum.”
The foundation is currently testing the program with juniors and seniors at Forest Hills Northern High School, where Michael Sadler graduate in 2010.
GameChang3r ambassadors will mentor middle and elementary school students in Forest Hills and Grand Rapids public schools for two years.
During the pilot period, the foundation will gather data to determine best practices moving forward as it works to expand to more schools.
The 9th annual Spartan Winter Tail starts at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the JW Marriott in downtown Grand Rapids.