As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said: ‘Somewhere along the way, we must learn that there is nothing greater than to do something for others.” Dr. King’s sentiments convey perhaps the most ‘human’ of all human qualities. So many of us are taught the value of sharing and giving, from a young age. For most, it takes some time to fully grasp the concept of this most valuable lesson. For 13-year-old Ava Giorgi of Smithfield, Rhode Island, it is one that she has already mastered.
Whether it be from the example set by her family, the values she learns in school, or experiencing the power of teamwork by playing youth sports, Ava exudes a maturity beyond her years. Her actions are truly the product of a kind heart. She has an intrinsic and giving nature that is evident in all that she does; and it is whole-heartedly genuine. For this reason, she was able to merge her passions for teamwork, philanthropy and pets into a heartwarming story, which proves that individual acts of kindness can positively change numerous lives…including those of her four-legged friends.
‘Teamwork makes the Dream Work’
Anyone who has played organized sports during their youth is certain to recall being told of the importance of teamwork. Coaches, parents and even teammates rely on this concept to teach valuable life lessons. In Ava’s case, she was able to put this lesson into action by having a determined internal drive, fueled by a strong familial connection. In playing second base for Smithfield Recreation Girls’ Softball, Ava has able to learn a great deal about teamwork, perseverance and confidence. Taking nothing away from her inherent desire to work well with others, she also has some help on the bench. Both her mother and father were coaches on her 12u team that won the league softball championship this past year. Although Ava will be the first to admit that she may not have been the most talented player on the team, her desire to help the team in any way possible was second to none. This made her an MVP (Most Valuable Player) in more ways than one.
A Friend in Need…
Away from the athletic field, Ava continues to embody the spirit of giving in all of her daily actions. Something as simple as holding the door open, or sitting with a lonely schoolmate at lunch is an act of kindness that comes so naturally to her. The joy she brings to those around her have taught Ava that any one individual (if properly motivated) can positively impact the world around them. While it has always been evident to her family and friends, Ava’s impact has become much more widespread. In fact, it has recently become felt across species.
In addition to giving her all in academics and athletics, Ava’s true passion remains caring for pets and animals. In her own words, she describes her love for helping animals who “do not have a voice like we do.” As a result, Ava has made it her place to be a voice for our four-legged friends that cannot speak.
Embodying her values of teamwork and benevolence, Ava set out to raise funds to provide for the care of dogs whom had been recently rescued. After raising more than $200 on her own, she contacted Jules Martins and Christine Nichols, owners of Village Paws in Greenville, Rhode Island. The owners of the pet grooming salon were deeply touched by the gesture. They explained that her fundraising efforts would be able to benefit a Shepherd named Callie. Due to a long period of neglect, Callie had become emaciated, flea-infested and suffered numerous vision problems. While recent attempts at finding her a good home proved to be logistically problematic, Callie had recently been adopted by a new, loving family. Ava’s generous donation allowed Callie to live a more comfortable and healthy life, as she settles into her new surroundings. Village Paws was able to treat her flea infestation, and a local veterinarian is treating her health issues. In an event greater, heartwarming twist, the family that adopted Callie had previously adopted her sister Betty (a black border collie cross). Not only is Callie on the road to better health, but she is also able to feel the love from her new family, alongside a reunion with her canine sister. Because of Ava’s selfless act, so many lives have been enhanced with love and caring.
The Dream Continues
Despite the success she has displayed in using teamwork to help others, Ava Giorgi has only just begun her mission of philanthropy. She plans on raising additional funds this summer (hopefully surpassing her original goal) to help pets that are in need of loving care. That is being a true team player. She used her greatest skills to help make life better for those around her. It is certainly this quality that makes her parents (who just happen to be her coaches, on the field), her friends, her teachers and anyone possessing the privilege of knowing her, most proud.
However, Ava will be the first to admit that she is just following the example in her heart. When asked about how helping pets has made her feel, she said:
“I hope my story is able to inspire others to get out there and do what they can to give back and be kind. In the end, one kind gesture goes a long way. One smile, or belly rub can change a person or an animal’s day. Making a difference and knowing you change someone’s life is the best reward out of it all and I cannot wait for what’s next!!”
Neither can we, Ava. Thank you for being such an amazing example for each and every one of us.
–Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and National Columnist for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the New England Patriots and provides NFL editorial content. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC