To be delivered at brand launch party in the Chicago Bulls stadium by Chance Athletics CEO, Eric Chance.
Thank you! I’m so excited to be here tonight, and not only because I get to hang out with professional basketball players in the Chicago Bulls stadium. I’m excited about the launch of our brand, Chance Athletics. I’m excited about giving children more promising futures. I’m excited about funding disadvantaged athletics programs. And most of all, I’m excited about making a positive change in our Chicago community, and one day, the world. Thank you for being here tonight to share in my excitement.
Eighteen years ago, I was ten years old. I was living in the south side of Chicago with my single mother, who struggled every day to make ends meet. Though I was only ten, I was faced with an important choice, though I didn’t know it at the time. This choice determined which path I was going to take – either the path that led to self-destruction or the path that led to something more.
Thankfully, I chose something more. That “more” for me was basketball. I joined the basketball league at the local YMCA, and I was hooked. I lived and breathed for basketball, even though I wasn’t very good at the time.
Though a passion for basketball might sound a bit trivial, I truly credit basketball, my coaches and my teams for where I am today. My family life and financial situation were dark, and basketball became my light. In middle school, basketball was my obsession and my main source of fun. But in high school, basketball took on a whole new meaning when my mother died. My team became my family, and my coaches became like parents. Basketball was how I coped.
Many of my friends who didn’t find a passion in school or sports turned to drugs and alcohol. I watched as some of my best friends engaged in destructive behaviors like selling drugs or getting involved in gangs.
Without basketball, I can imagine things would have turned out differently for me. It was the only thing keeping me from making the wrong decisions that would lead me down a darker path. It gave me a purpose and a goal – I wanted to go to college. The only way I would get there was through a basketball scholarship. This goal kept me going through some of the toughest times in my life. Eventually, it paid off.
By my senior year of high school, I received a full-ride scholarship to play basketball at Purdue University. I can’t even tell you the joy I felt when I heard this news — I finally had a future. Through my time at Purdue, I fell even more in love with basketball, but developed a new passion at the same time— I wanted to make a difference in the world by helping people. This passion became even bigger than my love for basketball. I no longer wanted to go pro; I just wanted to start something bigger than myself. This seedling of a dream kept me up at night. This was the beginning of Chance Athletics.
I graduated from Purdue with a business degree and a dream to start an athletics company that would give back to low-income sports programs. It was the only thing that made sense to me—to give back to the very thing that gave me a future. Everyone I told thought I was crazy and said it would never work. But I didn’t listen. I transferred all the drive and desire that basketball taught me into investing my heart and soul into creating this company. Somehow, I was lucky enough to find investors who believed in me and made it possible for us to be here today. I can’t thank those people enough.
Today, we aren’t just launching an athletics brand. We’re launching futures for the children in Chicago who grew up like me. Chance Athletics is meant to inspire and give back. Every piece of our merchandise is intended to breed encouragement and motivation through inspiring messages. Even more importantly, Chance Athletics will give 20% of all purchases to low-income sports programs in Chicago.
These donations will cover equipment, coaching and uniform costs for girls’ and boys’ sports programs, including football, baseball, track and field, soccer, basketball and more. Though donating to disadvantaged sports programs might not sound like a world-changing difference, I can assure you that these donations will change the lives of many.
Obviously, not every child will become a professional athlete. That isn’t my desire with Chance Athletics. I simply want to give every child the opportunity to learn all the valuable lessons that athletic programs teach – like working toward a goal, determination, teamwork, social skills, and so many more important lessons. These donations will change the lives of kids out there who need something to hold onto, something to bring them light, and something to give them a passion.
We’re starting Chance Athletics here in Chicago but we hope to expand to a national level so that we can donate to kids all over the United States. After this, I hope we can expand even further and help children throughout the rest of the world. As Steve Jobs once said, “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” I am so thankful for each and every one of you here today that are supporting my crazy dream to change the world.
I believe that changing the world happens in small ways; this is why Chance Athletics is not only American made but also environmentally friendly. We’re so excited to release our first line of athletic shoes and clothing that encourages people to “Take a Chance” on their dreams.
Today, I challenge all of you to take a chance. Take a chance on positively impacting our community here in Chicago. Take a chance on buying products that are ethically made and give back to others. Take a chance on pursuing any dream you might have, no matter how crazy it might seem. Most of all, take a chance on Chance Athletics – a chance to start changing the world.