By Kyle Daley

For most kids, summertime brings the joy of youth sports programs; where friendships are born, skills are honed, and life lessons of teamwork are learned. These programs offer an opportunity for kids to get out of the doldrums of a long summer day and become active in a sport they love. But for a majority of those in the inner city, these sports programs are a world away.

That was until Cle Ross came into play. A former professional baseball player with the Texas Rangers, Ross returned to his Kansas City roots and was in despair when he saw Heathwood Park, a field that gave birth to his career, in ruins. Due to cuts, the park was closed in the late 1990s and hadn’t been kept up since.

Nevertheless, Ross was determined to restore the baseball diamond to its former glory from his childhood and with it, the youth baseball program. When growing up, Ross remembers when an anonymous package arrived at his doorstep filled with sports equipment that his mother and he could never afford on their own. This sole act of charity touched the young Ross, who promised one day he would pay it forward.

That day came in 2004.

After arriving back in his hometown, Ross formed a non-profit — KCK RBI, took ownership of the field, built a small battalion of volunteers to repair the park and the facilities. Soon he found himself working with the Major League Baseball again, but this time with their Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program.

In 2009, Ross hit a milestone. He was able to organized more than 150 kids into his baseball league. But it didn’t stop there. This season, nearly 500 kids of all ages play on 28 teams.

Ross’s dedication to the youth in his hometown is an inspiring story of how one act of kindness to one person can spread to hundreds more years later. His ability to serve as a role model to the next generation of youth in his community showcases his skills at serving as a great team player. Something he teaches every day.

See an in-depth profile of Cle Ross from the Christian Science Monitor, as part of its “People Making a Difference” series.

If you would like to help with youth sports programs:

  • A $15 donation to Sports Gift will will provide a soccer ball for an impoverished child.
  • Play Soccer helps develop build a holistic year-round sports program across the globe.
  • Donate to Right To Play, an organization that helps disadvantaged through the use of sports.

For more ways to help, visit


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