PLEASANT VALLEY, N.Y. -- As coach of the Arlington High School girl's soccer team, Kieran McIlvenny, a Pleasant Valley resident, had seen how participating in sports can help kids, so he decided to transport that across the world.
McIlvenny and his wife Donna, run Kickin' Back Ltd. The non-profit has donated soccer equipment, clothes and books to children in Namibia and help learn them the game of soccer. Soccer teams and local businesses throughout Dutchess have helped contribute to Kickin' Back.
The charity has provided 7,000 books and 7,000 clothes to more than 3,000 children. They have sponsored a school and are working on raising money to build a library and a soccer pitch.
McIlvenny has traveled to Namibia twice to help deliver the supplies and meet the kids he's helping.
"It was an amazing experience," McIlvenny said. "My wife said it changed her life to see what they do with so little. Everyone has been so grateful."
Playing a sport can have lifelong benefits, McIlvenny said.
"It's proven that student athletes do better in school and manage their time better," McIlvenny said. "Being part of a team can help change your lifestyle, you learn about sportsmanship, respect and taking care of yourself."
While still assisting Namibia, McIlvenny said he is looking to expand and help out people in Cameron and Zimbabwe. He said the support from people in Dutchess has been amazing.
"People are so willing to help," McIlvenny said. "A soccer team raised $200 which helps provide for so much. The kids are very involved. They want to be involved, they just need some ideas."
For more information, or to help, e-mail McIlvenny at email@example.com