On episode 20 of the Build Better podcast, Anastasia welcomed Jay Calnan, CEO of J. Calnan and Associates. Calnan shared the mission of Team IMPACT, a nonprofit he started in 2011 to connect and cultivate meaningful relationships between college athletic teams and children diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses.
As a kid, Calnan had the opportunity to participate in team sports, an experience that allowed him to learn skills he values as an adult and business owner. These life skills – work ethic, teamwork, leadership and followship skills, discipline and perseverance – were all developed with the help of the people and organizations who invested their time and resources into the community. Calnan founded Team IMPACT as a way to pay it forward, giving back to his community and to kids who benefit most from learning these important life skills. The program serves kids ages 5-15 who are diagnosed or dealing with a life threatening or chronic illness. Each one is paired with a college athletic program that dedicates a minimum of two years to mentoring and helping them learn these important skills. They also have the opportunity to become a part of the team by attending practices, games, team dinners, and other events.
Team IMPACT now works with over 650 campuses in all 50 states, with over 2000 kids participating. Calnan says that networking and building a sense of community was what made J. Calnan and Associates a success after he started the company in 1996, and he carries those same principles into the nonprofit. If a company or organization is seeking ways to give back, Calnan encourages people to find something they are passionate about, to work hard, and to continue to network and meet new people in all different industries and walks of life. By networking with the medical and athletic communities, Calnan and the Team IMPACT staff are able to match kids with teams in their area. Calnan says, “The more people you know, the larger your network is, the more opportunities that will be created.” He also advises people to always be on the lookout for ways to get involved, and to remember to show appreciation for others by celebrating shared successes.
Calnan says it is mutually beneficial relationships that make Team IMPACT a success. “Mutually beneficial relationships are really the essence of life, and those come from being a person who leads in an introductory relationship in any capacity: to a friend, or a co-worker, or an associate in the industry, or your neighbor.” He adds, “Whatever the relationship is, you lead by saying, ‘How can I help?’”