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A Conversation With … Dan Elliott

Founder/President, SkyWord Sports Ministries

Posted online

What’s the mission of SkyWord Sports?
We use the power of athletics to teach and develop life-sustaining skills and moral and faith-based values. SkyWord Sports started in 2009. In 2012 is really when it took off and I started doing a lot of trips, a lot of humanitarian aid, all over the world. We serve through trips and [soon] through our dream centers. A dream center is where (communities) can, 365 days a year, be sustainable in allowing children and adults to use the facility for sports, then help them develop those skills and values we teach, like trust, love and honesty. We do that through sports clinics. Then we hand them a playbook, so we have somebody there who can continue to do that throughout the rest of the year.

Where have you established dream centers?
Our first one will be this year in Nairobi, Kenya. We’re providing the funds to pour the concrete, put the basketball goals up. While we’re over there, we’re actually going to put three sides up and the roof for that facility. That is attached right to a church building to where they can facilitate that and they can run their water, their feeding centers and their orphanages right there. The lack of water is awful; the lack of food is horrible. It’s not hard to find somebody in that area to where we can pay them to run the facility for us. The Nicaragua [dream center] will be built in 2020. It’s the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, other than Haiti. They live on $2 a day. (Dream centers) cost between $40,000 and $60,000 to build.

Do volunteers pay to attend the service project trips?
On the trip coming up to Kenya, I have four guys, one guy owns a construction company, [Plumb Line Services in Republic], and three other guys work in construction. They’re going to take care of the construction part. Then we’ll have a group of people that will take care of our outreach for the kids and the feeding centers, and a group that will do the basketball and volleyball. We have 22 signed up to go to Kenya, and it’s $2,600 apiece.

What’s your background?
I coached basketball for 18 years, five in high school back in Colorado, and then 13 at (Baptist Bible College). I’ve loved sports my whole life. I just love the coaching aspect of it, loving on people and building those relationships that will last for eternity.

Why center the nonprofit around sports clinics?
All over the world, kids flock to sports. I’ve been in the Philippines, where they make a ball out of tape. We teach them those values through sports. Who are you going to trust on the court? Who are you going to trust in life? Sports is a worldwide language. I’ve done clinics in Thailand for over 600 kids and then I’ve done a Nicaragua [clinic] for 80 kids.

How is the organization funded?
We have eight fundraising events this year. Six of those are golf tournaments and two of them are dinners. Our budget for this year is right at $100,000. Last year, it was $25,000. We don’t take any salary at all. We’d love to build five or six dream centers a year.

How have you seen your nonprofit impact communities?
Three ways. One is a spiritual aspect. I’ve seen kids’ lives changed. I have seen multiple kids that were in gangs understand the spirituality of their life. Emotionally, because now they’re being able to see and get fresh water; they’re able to get meals (and) medical supplies. Third is the physical aspect – being able to have some exercise in a safe environment. Globally, but even in our own backyard, there’s people that need us.

Dan Elliott can be reached at dan@skywordsports.org.

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