The Hy-Vee/Sanford Legends program aims to teach young people about integrity and character through participation in sports. The program created a unique and effective combination — encouraging youth on a path of health and wellness and also encouraging them to develop as individuals and leaders. Hy-Vee and First Premier Bank started Legends for Kids in the Sioux Falls area in 2000. Sanford Health, a rural, not-for-profit health care system, was also holding a similar event for kids. The Hy-Vee/Sanford Legends Program and partnership was created in 2005 when the two Sioux Falls community leaders joined forces to more effectively impact a greater number children. Both organizations have a strong desire to provide children with opportunities to develop healthy habits and learn leadership skills that will last a lifetime. There are two components to the program — grants and clinics. Each year, the Legends Grants Program gives thousands of dollars to help local nonprofit sports organizations build facilities, purchase equipment and improve their programs. In addition, Legends hosts annual sports clinics to teach kids about sports, including soccer, softball, football and more. Professional athletes, renowned college coaches and players, as well as local high school coaches and players teach the clinics, the majority of which are free to participants. In addition to teaching kids about their sport of choice, coaches and players serve as mentors and discuss teamwork, perseverance, commitment and motivation. The camps are a special and unique experience enjoyed by the participants and volunteers alike.
Teamwork within the Legends program is tremendous. Funds are raised through an annual auction, as well as contributions from dozens of corporate and individual sponsors. A committee consisting of Hy-Vee and Sanford leaders plans and holds the events. The Legends board of directors includes Hy-Vee and Sanford leaders, as well as all Hall of Fame sponsors. Hall of Fame sponsors, who donate $7,500 or more, are invited to have one representative on the board. In addition, dozens of professional athletes and the region’s best college and high school coaches, who have been recognized as positive role models on and off the field, volunteer to run the clinics. The instructors also serve as mentors for the thousands of kids who participate in the program. Numerous dedicated volunteers (Legends has no paid staff) and the overwhelming support from the community have helped to make the clinics and the overall program extremely successful.
The mission of the Hy-Vee/Sanford Legends program is to play a part in providing area youth with the tools and confidence to help them make the right decisions in life. The program is built on the philosophy that sports play a healthy role in young people’s lives by teaching them self-discipline, teamwork, leadership and strategic thinking, while also building self-confidence. To provide youth with the opportunity to experience the positive influence of sports, the program gives grants that help local teams and organizations, and also hosts annual events for young student athletes to receive specialized training in multiple sports. Hy-Vee and Sanford want every child to have the opportunity to participate in wellness programs. By offering many free clinics, the program offers children of all socioeconomic backgrounds the opportunity to develop healthy habits as well as leadership skills.
In 2014, the program raised $175,000, which was the highest amount in the history of the Hy-Vee/Sanford Legends program. This year’s contribution brings the money raised by the program to a nine-year total of $1,298,000. This year’s funds will be awarded in grants ranging from $500 – $8,500 to 69 local clubs and school teams throughout the Sioux Falls metro area. Grants may support a variety of needed items and equipment, from backstops to baseball bats to basketball courts. Donations in 2014 were up more than $10,000 from last year’s total. Nearly 3,500 kids participated in the 2014 Hy-Vee/Sanford Legends events. Approximately 2,500 kids attended the free clinics and 250 participated in the local triathlon, which was part of Hy-Vee’s Kids Fit Series. More than 750 high school athletes from South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota attended the Legends football camp. Leaders estimate that throughout the lifetime of the program more than 26,000 kids have participated in various Legends events. In addition, hundreds of parents and local coaches have also participated in clinics designed to help them further understand their role as mentors and sharpen their coaching skills. Ultimately, the program is broad-reaching, helping thousands of young people in the Sioux Falls community develop health and wellness habits and leadership skills that will last a lifetime. As an added bonus, the program also is helping important adult figures in those young peoples’ lives do the same.
“Hy-Vee is committed to partnering with communities and families to support health and wellness, and we have also been a long-time supporter of initiatives that teach children about good character. The Hy-Vee/Sanford Legends program is a great blend of character building and athletics,” said Randy Edeker, Hy-Vee chairman, CEO and president. “Kids do not just learn how to punt a football or make a free throw at the Legends clinics. They also learn about hard work, goal-setting, discipline and teamwork. They learn about good sportsmanship and making wise decisions. The individuals who volunteer their time to work at the clinics serve as great role models and mentors to the kids who participate. We are proud of our Sioux Falls stores for partnering with Sanford to champion healthy habits and self-confidence in children, who will make strong leaders for the future.”