Aug 14, 2018 | Editorials
The Jules L. Plangere, Jr. Family Foundation has committed $100,000 over the next four years to RallyCap Sports. RallyCap Sports is a non-profit recreational sports program serving children and young adults with special needs. Jack Conover, trustee of the Foundation, presented the initial check of $25,000 to the organization’s founders, Paul J. and Margo Hooker of Sea Girt, NJ, and RallyCap Sports Executive Director Luke Sims.
“This donation will ensure that local RallyCap Sports programs will expand in Monmouth County and NJ. It will allow us to impact children and young adults with special needs who still only dream of participating in sports. At RallyCap, we believe that all children have the right to participate in sports, just like any other able-bodied child. We are so grateful to the Jules L. Plangere, Jr. Family Foundation for their commitment to our community and belief in our mission,” said Paul J. Hooker, President of RallyCap Sports.
Established in 1997, the Jules L. Plangere, Jr. Family Foundation, founded by the late Jules L. Plangere, Jr., and his wife Jane, continues their philanthropic legacy of supporting numerous critical programs that enrich the lives of thousands of people in the Shore area and beyond. “We are proud to be associated with RallyCap Sports,” said Jack Conover, a trustee of the Foundation. “Unfortunately, for many children with special needs, access to recreational sports programs is limited. We share RallyCap’s vision that sports have the power to ignite change in every community and that people of all abilities can come together and share in the joy of sports.”
RallyCap Sports began 28 years ago when Hooker, while coaching his son’s Little League team in Middletown, asked a ten-year-old girl in a wheelchair how she was doing. “This stinks,” was her reply as she couldn’t understand why her brothers could participate in sports and she couldn’t. Her heart-wrenching, two-word response ignited a determination in Paul and his wife, Margo, to never let any child with special needs be sidelined again, even though they had no children with special needs of their own.
A few months later, the Hookers rallied the community and established the first adaptive baseball program for children with special needs. What began as a one-sport, one-season organization, quickly expanded into a year round recreational sports program offering over a dozen adaptive sports programs including soccer, flag football, baseball, basketball, tennis, golf, dancercise, yoga and cheerleading.
In 2015, the Hookers decided to expand the organization and establish volunteer driven RallyCap Chapters in local communities and on college and university campuses nationwide. Today, RallyCap Sports has 13 active Rally Chapters including Seton Hall University and Ramapo College in NJ; Bowling Green State University, Ohio State University, John Carroll University, Ohio University, University of Dayton, University of Cincinnati in Ohio; and in Michigan at Central Michigan University. There are three local community chapters in Monmouth County (Middletown, Bradley Beach and Manalapan), and one in Cleveland, Ohio.
“To date, RallyCap Sports has positively impacted the lives of more than 1,400 children with special needs. All of this was made possible with the support of over 1,900 volunteers who combined have provided more than 50,000 hours of community service,” said Hooker, who is also the president of the Board of Trustees.
Historically funded by a few generous individuals and its founders, RallyCap’s goal is to raise funds to expand the number of registered and active Rally Chapters to 50 nationwide, which would include 10 in New Jersey, by the end of 2021.
For more information about RallyCap Sports program, to volunteer or to donate, visit www.rallycapsports.org or call Executive Director Luke Sims at (732) 391-2282.