BounceBack—Helping families afford the high cost of children’s activities

April 2014 View more

Sara Reifsteck, Founder of Bounceback, Inc.

Sara Reifsteck, Founder of Bounceback, Inc.

When finances are tight, many parents are forced to cut back on discretionary spending. Often, that affects their children’s ability to participate in the sport or activity they love. Last year, one Naperville mom, Sara Reifsteck, decided to launch BounceBack, Inc., a charity that helps families in need afford the high cost of extra curricular activities. Since its inception last April, BounceBack has helped more than 32 families with more than $25,000 in expenses.

Reifsteck was inspired to start BounceBack after hearing parents complain about families who hadn’t paid their fees on her children’s sports teams. “It frustrated me because it isn’t anyone’s business. We don’t know what goes on in people’s homes. They could be experiencing a job loss, illness, or an unexpected expense. You just never know,” said Reifsteck. She empathizes with parents who want to give their kids everything, but can’t always afford to. “Growing up, I knew my parents couldn’t afford to put me in extra activities. I didn’t even bother to ask them because I knew the answer would be no.”

With three boys active in multiple sports, Reifsteck knows all too well the high costs of participation. “Naperville is a community that thrives on sports. If your child wants to participate, it can cost anywhere from $70 to well over $1,600 per activity. Obviously, one of the first things to go in times of financial hardship are these extra curricular activities,” Reifsteck notes. “Kids don’t understand what their parents go through to give them these opportunities. It would break my heart if I had to tell my kids they couldn’t play anymore.” While Reifsteck began BounceBack with the goal of funding sports activities, the charity also helps fund other types of extra curricular activities including band, dance and art programs.

Through her work, Reifsteck hopes to raise awareness and open minds. “There are 18,000 children in DuPage County that live in poverty. The families we help are really going through a tough time,” said Reifsteck. “It doesn’t matter where you come from, what color your skin is, or how you paid to participate. The only thing that should differentiate one kid from another is the name and number on their jersey.”

Families asking for support must complete a thorough application process and provide four references that are not relatives. They must prove their need, provide copies of the child’s report card, and ensure the child participates in the activity funded. Any money awarded is paid directly to the team or organization and is 100 percent confidential. BounceBack also helps kids obtain any gear and equipment that is required.

“The people we have assisted have been hard-working, amazing parents who set their pride aside to make sure their child can stay involved.” Reifsteck points out that each applicant has a different and unique story. Recently, BounceBack assisted one family suffering the unexpected loss of a child. “The financial and emotional burden of their child’s passing was overwhelming,” Reifsteck recounts. BounceBack helped cover the costs of their other child’s activities to maintain a sense of normalcy.

BounceBack receives most of its funding through corporate and private donors. The charity also sponsors fundraising events such as soccer tournaments and trampoline parties. TAG Sports Gear also assists the organization by offering equipment discounts and donating money back to the charity when people use the promo code “BounceBack” on the TAG website.

“In only one year (BounceBack) has become bigger than an idea and even bigger than myself. We’ve already assisted a child out of state. In 10 years, we can definitely be helping kids on a national level.”

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Photo by Robyn Sheldon