by: Photo by Holly M. Gill - Carolyn Harvey, left, Madras Aquatic Center operations manager, and Bobby DeRoest, aquatics manager, listen to Amy Tykeson, president and CEO of BendBroadband, which has donated $7,000 to the MAC for scholarships for local youths.

   A partnership among the Madras Aquatic Center, Kids in the Game and BendBroadband will soon provide scholarships to allow low-income youths to participate in sports and activity programs.
   Amy Tykeson, of Bend, president and CEO of BendBroadband, which is donating $7,000 for the scholarships, said that she hopes to benefit about 300 kids with the donation.
   Tykeson, MAC leaders and supporters, and staff and officials from Kids in the Game gathered at the aquatic center Dec. 12 to celebrate the partnership.
   "It's going to open up the programs to everyone," said Tykeson, who was impressed with all the improvements in the Madras community -- from the MAC to the Central Oregon Community College Madras campus. "It's terrific to see that dream come true. I'm really excited about the future of the kids in the community."
   John Ballantine, of Bend, CEO of Kids in the Game, said that the MAC is a "beautiful facility."
   About three years ago, Ballantine co-founded Kids in the Game -- which has since expanded across the country -- to ensure that the cost of sports programs doesn't keep young people from participating.
   "Sixty-two percent of kids from 9-13 never get a chance to play sports," he said, adding that 70 percent drop out by age 13.
   "One-third of kids 9 and under are obese," he continued. "This is an opportunity for us to change that and reduce it."
   Even though she's only been the MAC operations manager for the past two months, Carolyn Harvey said that she has already seen a need for the scholarships among the elementary school youths who take swimming lessons at the MAC, but don't return for other programs.
   The funds will be available for "swimming, soccer, basketball, and whatever other programming we decide to develop and offer to the community," said Harvey.
   "I'm excited that people really see what it can do for the kids in the community, especially when you look at our health ranking and obesity rates," she said. "We have an opportunity to help them develop healthy lifestyle activities."
   Harvey is enthusiastic about the new partnerships. "We might have the opportunity down the line to receive other funding from them; it opens the door for good things," she said.
   Shortly after the announcement of the funding, Harvey was gratified to see that it was beginning to have an impact. "We've already had kids signing up for the scholarships here at the MAC for youth basketball."
   To find out more about the scholarships, visit the MAC, or call 541-475-4253.
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