Last year, we were thrilled to share the wonderful and inspiring story of 2012 SI SportsKids of the Year, Caden and Conner Long.
This year, we are equally excited to spread the uplifting story of 14 year old Jack Wellman, a multi-sport athlete from Newtown, CT who was just named 2013 SportsKid of the Year! This story is extra special for me, because Jack lives about 4 houses away and our families have grown up in the same neighborhood together.
Jack has always been an athlete and has loved sports. Since he was young, he played lacrosse, football and has wrestled. Jack’s sports career took a bad turn last year when he broke his back in football practice. Faced with a major injury and unable to participate, Jack was devastated at first. Then, his thoughts shifted to what else he could do to contribute to his team and community.
Jack found a new path by becoming a wrestling coach for young kids in Newtown. He connected really well with the kids and helped them improve. He was starting to enjoy his new role and purpose as a coach, when tragedy struck in Newtown last December. One of his wrestler’s, Jack Pinto, was among the victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Instead of retreating, Jack Wellman’s instinct was to find more ways that he could help. He worked with the other coaches and helped his young wrestling team not only continue their season with confidence, but win a divisional championship!
He then personally rallied and led community members to give their time and talent to help victims families with service projects in Newtown. He also reached out to Nike to supply Sandy Hook colored green uniforms so that Newtown’s football program could play their season in honor of the Sandy Hook victims. Newtown’s High School football team also went on to an undefeated season, winning their conference championship.
Jack Wellman defines Newtown Strong. As we say here in Newtown, “We are Newtown. We Choose Love”. Jack’s strength, caring and perseverance have helped lift our town and change the world for the better.
Since last December, there are over 75 organizations that have been created here in Newtown to make positive change in the world. And millions of notes, meals, gifts, prayers and other acts of kindness and contributions made from people near and far.
Jack Wellman is a part of this canvas of goodness, and a shining example of how one person can make the world a better place, despite the difficulties they face in life. Thank you, Jack, for being a wonderful role model to kids here in Newtown and, now, everywhere around the world. And thanks to everyone at SI for Kids, especially Managing Editor Bob Der, for paying honor to the best of our humanity.
Below is a great video provided by SI for Kids that tells Jack’s amazing story:
- Read the SportsIllustrated for Kids article about Jack on sikids.com
- Watch other great IMK stories about children and adults that exhibit caring and perseverance
- Read IMK’s list of great quotes for kids about caring and courage
Topics for Discussion:
- What inspired Jack to take action and do something positive after his injury?
- How can one person help change the world for the better?
- Visit Ripple Kids for ideas and tools to help others in your community
- Perform a random act of kindness. Here are some great ideas.
- If you would like to support the personal charities and causes that honor the victims of Sandy Hook, visit mysandyhookfamily.com
- Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for elementary school students.
- Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for middle school students.