WOW! It has been quite sometime since I have posted on my blog. With the transition with work and beginning my masters program, plus the great ole’ football season, life has taken me in 72 different directions. For those of you who have not followed the path of Len and I, we have wanted to establish our own nonprofit for years. It has been on my bucket list since before we even met, and his passion to help back the community has made him want to do even more. Although many athletes just jump into the role of running their own nonprofit and using their platform to make their business successful, Len and I decided to take a different route. I always knew that I wanted to be completely hands on within our organization and so I decided to enroll into grad school and obtain a masters degree in nonprofit management at DePaul University. The last time I had talked with y’all, I was planning on attending school in the fall BUT I ended up receiving an email at the end of February, right in the midst of all of our offseason travel, saying that there was still opportunities to be a part of the spring semester. I decided to apply and ended up being accepted into the spring program…literally 8 days before the program started. I generously enrolled into 3 classes, dropped to part time at work, and headed to the store to go school supplies shopping! Here I am, 8 months and 9 classes later (including the 4 I so graciously decided to take this quarter), WAY ahead of many of my classmates with an estimated graduation date of June 12th; wild thing is June 10th is my due date! OH YEA! If you haven’t found out yet, I’m pregnant with our first child and I just found out today what the gender of our child is!!! (STAY TUNED) – Don’t worry, we got married for July on 7/2 for Mr.72 (now he can never forget our anniversary!!) Anyways, enough about my life this past year and on to what I really came here to discuss.
So many people look at Len as just the tackle of the Chicago Bears and the wild thing is, this is just a chapter of our life. I know for a fact that he is going to be a working man the rest of his life; he has no patience to sit at home and do nothing. The idea of us having a nonprofit actually began when we were just friends. At the time I was working in community relations for the Chicago Bulls and he decided he wanted his own organization and wanted me to run it. Although the offer was amazing for a newly graduated student, I knew I was not prepared. I knew that there was so much more that I needed to learn before I could take a shot at things. 6 years, 2 dogs, marriage, and the creation of a baby later, I finally went out on a limb to figure it all out.
Since I was in girl scouts as a little girl, I knew my purpose in life was to help others. I love helping others whether it is small or large and was excited to learn that I could truly turn my passion into a career within the nonprofit sector. Again, for those of you that do not know, my first career path was within the sports field. I worked for multiple sports teams within Chicago after graduation and was having a fun time doing it all. Then I married an athlete and decided I get enough sports with him and that it was time to make a change… just kidding, but really. I wanted to be able to use my educational studies in sports management, business, entrepreneurship, and now nonprofit management in one sector, and luckily my husband was on the same page.
Without giving away too much, we will be establishing our nonprofit this offseason and wrapping both of our careers together to create a new career path for the both of us. Our nonprofit will be based out of Illinois to start, with hopes of expanding to other cities in the future. So many athletes develop programs that focus on athletes and we want to do just the opposite of that. As a kid, I was not as athletically as gifted as my husband, but I loved sports. From the age of 8 I knew I wanted to be a sports agent or a sports broadcaster… except when I got to that period of my life when my studies began I realized I was too emotional to be an agent and I could not stand my voice, so a broadcaster was out of the picture as well. Studying sports management gave me the in to still be involved within sports but from the outside looking in, and that is exactly the opportunity we want to give children. We want to be able to take the kids who are not playing sports, but still want to be involved, and show them all the other opportunities that there are in this world including things like nutritionists, financial advisors, broadcasters, agents, physical therapists, front office staff for a team, team retail, groundwork, and so on. The opportunity that we want to give to these students in one that allows for them to shadow different professionals in all aspects to weed out what they like and do not like, and eventually then provide them with an intern match to gain even more experience within.
Although we know that our dreams are big and that they may seem outlandish to some, we know that this opportunity is one that many children would not have the opportunity to do without us. Although the newly established Leno’s have been active parts of the community for years, I cannot wait to see where this new journey takes us and all the positive impacts that we are going to have on children’s lives for the years to come.
With this quarter coming to an end next week, I will FINALLY be having some time to myself so be on the lookout for a new revamped blog before Christmas (unless baby leno has other plans in-store like binge watching Disney+).