Bradley parent raises funds for middle school sports

by Tori Hamby

Carrie Kester just wanted to keep her three kids active and off the couch for spring break, but after coming up with few options and even fewer in her price range, she knew she was in for a long summer.

She was struck with inspiration, remembering the discount card she purchased from a Bradley Middle School fundraiser. She could start her own discount card, one that was activities based with proceeds benefiting middle school sports.

“I started looking around at activities for my kids and realized how expensive they all are,” Kester said. “I decided to create the Charlotte Summer Pass, so that parents could look at and get ideas for things to do.”

Last summer, Kester said her son, Mason, a rising eighth-grader at Bradley Middle, kept himself busy by preparing himself for golf tryouts. The family planned their vacations around golf clinics and lessons, a move that ultimately paid off when Mason made the team.

However, now that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has taken middle school sports funding out of its budget for the second consecutive year, and corporate money used to fund the program last year has dried up, Mason and other Mecklenburg County middle schoolers may not have get the chance to take to the golf courses, basketball courts or football fields next year.

Kester hopes money raised from the discount cards could help change that. Fifty percent of the proceeds raised from Charlotte Summer Pass sales will go to the Student Athlete Foundation of Mecklenburg County, an organization formed by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education member Rhonda Lennon and sports blogger Tripp Roaks. The foundation hopes to save the program by seeking out large corporate sponsors and accepts smaller private donations and money raised through fundraising.

“Mason’s foray into middle school sports this year was the first time since kindergarten T-ball that he has gotten involved with a team sport,” Kester said. “He learned so much from the process of preparing himself for tryouts, and the pride that came with having a really great season was something he had never experienced before.”

Kester presented the discount cards Tuesday evening, May 31, during a middle school sports rally at Bailey Middle School, hosted by Lennon. Supporters can purchase the discount cards for $20, with $10 going to the foundation, $5 going to the organization selling the cards, such as a booster club or school, ­and $5 going back to the Charlotte Summer Pass. Deals include:
•Buy one admission, get one free at the Shiele Museum of Natural History;
•A free ride simulator with general admission purchase at the NASCAR Hall of Fame;
•Buy one game of bowling or laser tag, get one free at Northcross at the Lake;
•Buy one trial or arena ride, get one free on Thursdays at Latta Equestrian Center;
•And several other discounts that may be reused until the cards expire on Sept. 15.

About 30 student athletes and parents, including Kester, showed up for the middle school sports rally to support the program. Several student-athletes, such as Bailey Middle School baseball players Jonathan Lamontagne and Cole Parks, spoke about the influence that middle school sports have had on their lives.

“I couldn’t even begin to think about what school would be like without sports,” Jonathan said. “It’s basically everything to us.”

Amy Hallman, a retired high school teacher and J.V. Washam Elementary School parent to a fourth-grader, said she knows the positive influence sports can have on disadvantaged students.

“I know what happens to kids who don’t have anywhere to go in the afternoon,” Hallman said. “If we take away the things they look forward to the most, then that’s not fair to them or their futures. Sports is what makes many kids who don’t have positive role models get up and go to school in the mornings.”

Want to learn more?

For more information about the Charlotte Summer Pass, visit

Did you like this? Share it:

Leave a Reply