Sammamish Review – March 17, 2004
By David Hayes
The sign on the wall above Brandon Nelson and Kevin Howell clearly states that no horseplay is allowed in the whirlpool at a local athletic club.
But just as clear, the pool’s lifeguard has allowed some latitude toward the duo.
The fooling around Nelson and Howell got away with is just part of their bonding process.
The Skyline High School senior is mentoring Howell, a fifth-grader at Challenger Elementary. The two were brought together through the Athletes For Kids program, which matches high school athletes with students who have disabilities.
“I’ve noticed our interaction has helped Kevin open up, especially to me,” said Nelson, a varsity soccer player for the Spartans. “In the beginning, it was difficult to get a reaction from him. But now it’s great to see him smile, see him happy.”
Founded in 2002 by Ken Moscaret, the Athletes For Kids program has quadrupled in size, going from seven participants in its first year to 28 today. Moscaret said the program has been so successful at Skyline, they are looking to expand to Eastlake and Issaquah high schools.
In fact, Athletes For Kids representatives met with about 15 parents and members of the Wolfpack Booster Club March 9. Moscaret said he was surprised by how receptive Eastlake’s booster club was to starting up their own program.
“They not only wanted to start a chapter at Eastlake, they didn’t want to wait until next year,” Moscaret said.
Moscaret recommended that Eastlake start with a handful of athletes, which is the same way Skyline began its program.
“The best way for them to jump-start a program is to sit in on our training session with 13 new Skyline athletes,” Moscaret said. “Then once the students are trained and given a background check, (Eastlake) will see how students are officially inducted.”
Moscaret’s own son was the first special-needs student matched up with an athlete, Skyline graduate Simi Reynolds.