Twelve-year-old Ford Preston has a sports-filled life. He’s played lacrosse at every opportunity since was four, he volunteers as a coach for younger teams and now he’s applying his considerable determination towards breaking down the high cost of sports equipment for others.
“I’ve been planning a long time and I’ve seen kids struggle with playing because of prices, and gear is a big part of that,” he said.
Lacrosse players need kidney pads, chest pads, elbow pads, lash guards, a helmet, mouthguard, gloves, a stick and cleats for field lacrosse. Since deciding to take it on, he learned that one in three kids aren’t able to play because of the cost of gear and registration.
For Preston, the idea of not being able to play is unthinkable.
“Sports is like my medicine. I do it and it helps me cope with my Tourette syndrome diagnosis. If I didn’t have it, my Tourettes could get a lot worse,” he said.
That’s what happened when everything paused last summer. Preston’s physical and verbal ticks were getting worse. He was invited to a lacrosse camp in Langley, but with the unpredictability of COVID-19, Preston’s mom regretfully decided they couldn’t justify the expense.
Preston really wanted to go. More than want, he needed it.
So he figured, why not raise the money? He started approaching West Shore business owners for donations, not an easy ask mid-pandemic, but amazingly he raised almost $4,000. Enough to cover camp fees, ferry costs, accommodations and food for seven weekends of travel to Langley.
Preston was so grateful for the support, and it occurred to him that this was the first time his parents had had to say no. It made him look around and notice other kids whose lacrosse gear didn’t fit, or was really old.
And so the idea sparked that he could do something to give back to the community and help other aspiring athletes. It was a great idea, except that as any sports parent knows, gear is bulky. Again, Preston’s mom had to say no.
The next thing she knew, Preston says “Hey mom, some guy from Toronto is going to call you.”
“What have you done now, Ford?” she worried. But the guy from Toronto was a manager with The Storage Room in Langford, with an enthusiastic offer for a free storage room.
He’s already got a few loads of gear – helmets, hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks, cleats, a huge hockey bag, tennis rackets – and he and his mom are planning shelves to organize the gear by sport.
Once they have a decent amount, they’ll coordinate with minor league sports associations, coaches and community members to get the gently used gear to the kids who need them.
Cash donations via Go Fund Me will help buy used or new equipment: gofund.me/e6b5cd95. Donations can be picked up or dropped off by arrangement with Preston (firstname.lastname@example.org).