Who We Are

Our mission is to enhance the lives of children who have disabilities and special needs and the high school athletes who mentor them. We believe that modeling acceptance, inclusion, and respect of all individuals transforms and strengthens our communities.


Athletes For Kids serves children in 1st-12th grades who have disabilities and special needs of all kinds.

We carefully match each child with a qualified high school athlete, who commits to mentoring a child for one to three years. Once a mentorship is formed, the pair meets two to four times a month.

Mentor candidates are referred to our program by other AFK Mentors, coaches, teachers, Athletic Directors, and community members. Every applicant must pass a thorough screening and background check before being accepted into our program. Once selected, they are required to attend an intensive training, followed by monthly group meetings where they receive ongoing training and support from our Program Manager. The training topics are all based on evidenced based best practices for mentoring.


Athletes For Kids began in 2001 when a young boy in Sammamish, WA with a difficult medical condition was being teased, bullied, and ostracized by his peers because of it. The boy's mother and father believed that if their son could have one supportive relationship outside of family, it could turn the boy's life around.

The parents were introduced to a star local athlete, Simi Reynolds, from nearby Skyline High School in Sammamish, who agreed to spend time with their son each week as a mentor. That relationship became so life-changing for their son that Simi agreed to recruit a group of fellow athletes at Skyline to mentor other children with medical conditions, disabilities, and special needs of all kinds. In 2002, Athletes For Kids was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) and established the first mentor chapter made up of six athletes from Skyline High School.

Beginning with a small chapter of eight students in Sammamish, AFK has expanded over the years to serve children in the cities of Bellevue, Issaquah, Kirkland, Mercer Island, Newcastle, Redmond, Renton, Sammamish and Woodinville.

We now serve over 350 youth annually, and have served over 1,500 youth since our founding.


Few other programs match mentors and mentees from the same generation, and who live in the same neighborhoods. Our program is distinctive in that it pairs a high school athlete with a child in a developing mentorship. The two work together to find common ground and learn from each other in a variety of ways. Both participants bring their own interests and abilities to the mentorship, and over time, many of the pairings grow into strong friendships.

The AFK program helps mentee “buddies” cope with social challenges while also expanding awareness for our mentors about the hurdles their buddies may face on a daily basis. Each have experienced similar situations, from the challenges of fitting in on the playground or school cafeteria, to facing challenges in classroom or riding the school bus. Our mentors have firsthand knowledge of what it is like for today’s youth when it comes to current issues such as social media and the constant presence of technology in their environment.


  • Melissa King, Executive Director

  • Marni Kurtz, Program Manager

  • Daniel Besmer, Mentorship Coordinator
  • Lauren Richins, Data & Communications Specialist

  • Thom Stuart, Accounting Manager

  • Agni Bhatt, Salesforce Specialist


  • Kara Murphy Richards, Chair
    Judge, Pro Tempore
    King County District/City of Renton Municipal Courts
    City of Residence: Issaquah
  • Beth Toombs, Secretary
    H.R. Generalist, AAA Corp
    City of Residence: Sammamish
  • Angie Ahlemeyer, Board Member
    Special Education Assistant, ISD
    City of Residence: Sammamish
  • Steve Avanessian, Board Member
    V.P. Client Services, BDA Inc
    City of Residence: Redmond
  • Leslie Brown, Board Member
    Contractor, Market and Sales Research
    City of Residence: Sammamish
  • Kelly Harris, Board Member
    Criminal Division Chief
    Seattle City Attorney’s Office
    Residence: Sammamish
  • Stephen Kilbreath, Board Member
    Benefit Auctioneer
    Stephen Kilbreath Auctions and Events
    City of Residence: Snoqualmie
  • Penny Lathum, Board Member
    Licensed Behavior Analyst and Owner,
    Eastside Social Skills Therapy

    City of Residence: Issaquah
  • Jason Meersman, Board Member
    CPA, Sweeney Conrad, P.S.
    City of Residence: Kirkland
  • Kyle Snell, Board Member
    Teacher/Coach, Eastlake High School
    City of Residence: Sammamish


  • Ken and Liz Moscaret
    Founders of Athletes For Kids
    City of Residence: Sammamish
  • Steve Fricke
    Assistant General Counsel, Microsoft
    City of Residence: Bellevue
  • Alexa McBarron
    Prosecuting Attorney, Issaquah
    City of Residence: Renton
  • Susie Cohen
    Stylist, Etcetera
    City of residence: Bellevue
  • Kari Ovena
    Office Administrator/Gymnastics Coach, Skyline HS
    City of Residence: Sammamish
  • Kavita Ryali
    Senior Program Manager Windows Group MSN, Microsoft
    City of Residence: Issaquah