The Boys & Girls Clubs of Columbus have received a windfall from a local nonprofit foundation to expand youth basketball and other sports programs in nine clubs throughout the city.
The German Village-based nonprofit was given $225,000 to start the Lindy Infante Foundation Athletic League to provide 70 girls and boys in grades 3 to 6 the opportunity to participate in high-level competitive sports.
The money was provided by the Lindy Infante Foundation, a Dublin-based nonprofit organization founded by Brad Infante, son of the late NFL football coach Gelindo "Lindy" Infante.
The money, spread over three years, will pay for fees and administrative costs for the program, which will begin with basketball in September at the J. Ashburn Jr. Youth Center in the Hilltop neighborhood.
It then will expand to other clubs and include other programs, said Julie Kirk, spokeswoman for the clubs.
Annual family membership to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Columbus is $5 per year.
"This is going to allow us to hire our first athletic director and really build out a sports program and athletic program that our club and kids can really be proud of," said Rebecca Asmo, CEO of the local clubs.
Lindy Infante was born into poverty in 1940 in Miami, his son said. His father left the family when Infante was young and his mother died of cancer when he was 15, said Brad Infante, a Dublin resident.
"When you say poor, they lived in a trailer in a dirt park," he said.
Lindy Infante's sister, Bobbi, who was married and had more stability at home, took in her brother, who was first introduced to sports at 15 years old, Brad Infante said.
Lindy Infante excelled in football, playing for the University of Florida and had a long coaching career that included jobs as offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns and head coach of the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts.
"I get asked all the time if this is about getting kids college scholarships," Brad Infante said. "The answer is 'no.' "
Lindy Infante offered much praise to his many mentors and never complained about his many struggles as a youth, Brad Infante said.
"My dad was extremely generous from a donation perspective to a time perspective, doing charities or commercials and appearances," he said.
The elder Infante died in 2015 at age 75. In honor of his father's memory, Brad Infante and his wife, Stephanie, established the foundation, which officially launched in December.
With a base of $1.2 million, the foundation has financial pledges of $300,000 a year for the next five years, Infante said.
He said the intent is to give away $250,000 in annual pledges while building up the base enough to where the accrued interest can be spent on activities for youths.
Brad Infante, who also is the founder and president of CDC Medical in Plain City, said mentorship is just as important as the sports activities for needy youngsters.
"The goal is to (serve) the youth here in greater Columbus," he said. "If it expands ... outside of the area, that would be great."