Indy-based Nine13sports pedals after big prize to fuel expansion

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There’s nothing better than a little friendly competition.

It’s even better when there’s $125,000 on the line.

The best part of all, no matter which of five not-for-profit finalists win this year’s Lids Foundation Tip of the Hat Award, the money goes to a good cause.

Lids Foundation is based in Indianapolis and two of the finalists, Indianapolis-based Nine13sports and Littlewish Foundation—which has offices in Indianapolis and Michigan City—have Indiana ties.

The other three finalists are McLean, Virginia-based Our Military Kids; Roxbury, Massachusetts-based The Base; and Columbus, Ohio-based A Kid Again.

I’m not here to pitch one charity over another, but since this is an Indianapolis-based publication and this is a sports business blog, I’m highlighting Nine13sports, a not-for-profit that promotes health, wellness and exercise for children ages 8 to 18 through its Kids Riding Bikes programs.

In addition to promoting health and fitness, Nine13sports’ programs “promote community, teamwork, and mutual respect for one another designed to foster a lasting impact,” said the organization’s executive director, Tom Hanley.

Hanley, a former competitive bike racer, is nothing if not persistent. When he couldn’t get large charitable foundations to support a wellness program he developed for central Indiana youth, Hanley switched gears and adopted a fee-for-service model underwritten largely by sponsorships.

Nine13sports has taken its program to Indianapolis Public Schools and myriad other public schools. In 2015, Nine13sports worked with more than 7,500 students in central Indiana. The organization’s classes use bicycles, stationary trainers and cutting-edge technology to grab kids’ attention.

And Nine13sports is growing beyond its primary market. In 2014 it began working with an Oregon charity to deliver its Kids Riding Bikes wellness programs in Portland. Hanley hopes to roll his organization’s programs into new markets this year.

$125,000 would be a big deal to any charity. For Nine13sports it would nearly match its annual budget.

According to its web site, the primary focus of the Lids Foundation is “to improve the lives of young people in the communities in which Lids Sports Group operates. This will initially be done through offering resources to non-profit organizations or events whose goals align with the Lids Foundation—those supporting healthy and active lifestyle programs.”

The best part of the Tip of the Hat Award is Lids Foundation officials let the public decide which charity is worthy of the big prize.

Voting closes March 6 at midnight. To vote, click here.


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