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Louisville Sports Commission honored for Event Impact of the Year

Award recognizes Organization’s Louisville Active Initiative

Louisville, Ky. – May 10, 2023 – Louisville Active, a hands-on, community health and wellness initiative operated by the Louisville Sports Commission (LSC), was honored as Event or Program Impact of the Year by Sports ETA, the sports events and tourism industry trade association. The LSC was one of 10 awardees honored today among the 600 Sports ETA member organizations nationwide.

The award was presented at the annual Sports ETA Symposium held this week in Kansas City, Mo.

“While the Sports Commission’s primary focus is inbound sports tourism, we understand how important it is for Louisvillians in marginalized neighborhoods to have access to recreational-level sports activities,” said Greg Fante, president and CEO of the Louisville Sports Commission. “We launched Louisville Active programming in 2012 and have seen continued success helping to remove barriers that prevent kids from being active.”

Currently housed within Louisville Active are three distinct programs: Kids Finish First presented by UofL Health, Playing it Forward and Sports Fun(d).

Kids Finish First presented by UofL Health was the first Louisville Active initiative the LSC launched. Since its inception in 2012, more than 4,000 local kids have participated in this program that helps instill the habit of running. LSC partners with local organizations and, over a span of six weeks, kids from these organizations walk, jog or run 12 miles. Their training culminates on a secure course, and the LSC staff sets up a “race-day experience” where the kids can run or walk the last 1.1 miles to the finish line to complete a half marathon distance of 13.1 miles. Kids are able to experience the excitement of competing on a secure course, having parents and friends there cheering, crossing a finish line and receiving a finisher’s medal – and coming away with a sense of achievement for completing a half marathon.

“Many kids involved in the Louisville Metro Police Activities League simply do not have access to athletic opportunities,” said Rick Polin, director of the Louisville Metro Police Activities League. “Kids Finish First is a goal-oriented program that is welcoming to all skill levels. The program holds the kids accountable to their goals while arming them with valuable life lessons. Kids Finish First allows many PAL kids to realize achievements they never thought possible.”

The LSC understands that one barrier to participation in sports, especially for those who are economically challenged, is the cost of equipment. Playing it Forward is an ongoing program where the LSC and its partners collect new, outgrown and gently used sports equipment and distribute it to disadvantaged youth. With financial support from local businesses and foundations, in 2017 the LSC formally launched the program by purchasing more than $10,000 in sports equipment that was distributed to kids who attend two West Louisville community centers. Subsequently, the LSC has collected and redistributed more than 9,000 pieces of equipment to kids in marginalized areas throughout the local community.

Sports Fun(d) provides financial grants to establish and expand affordable sports activities in Louisville’s marginalized neighborhoods – “more sports, more kids, more places.” The LSC partners with existing sports programs to help increase participation and serves as a catalyst for creating new sports activities. The LSC received grants from local and national foundations that enabled Sports Fun(d) to launch in July 2021. To date, Sports Fun(d) has made it possible for nearly 1,000 kids to participate in sports.

“With the assistance from Sports Fun(d), we were able to introduce volleyball to many at-risk young ladies from West Louisville,” said Wes Hinton, founder of DELTA Foundation. “Participating in the program gave them the opportunity to build confidence, learn the importance of teamwork and improve their mental and physical health.”

Organizations interested in learning more about any of the above Louisville Active programming can contact Lisa Mills at 502-814-0200 or

Submission criteria for the Event or Program Impact of the Year award included community impact; resident fitness or quality of life; socioeconomic inequality; and services for underserved communities.