Note: This Nine13sports post was written by Tom Hanley in the sense of his personal opinions and not in the capacity of his executive position.

Please read the official press release here: Hanley Family Donation Pledge 7.31.2012

“Community” is a term that gets tossed around continuously in society, much like “giving back” and “responsibility”.  These words are used every day by many and yet the actual understanding of what they mean seems to be lost in the fast paced world of today.

Community and Responsibility are words that go together and often get co-mingled with Giving Back.  The general tone is something along the line of “to share Responsibility in the Community we are Giving Back”.

Lauren and I as the Hanley family have decided to define our own meaning of those words.  We have seen the greatness of the Community here in Indianapolis that supported us in the dark hours on June 5, 2010.  We have come to have a much more defined understanding of what Responsibility is for oneself and for others that are impacted by an individual.  Most importantly, we mutually have come to reject the term “Giving Back” and instead view philanthropy within the community as “Paying Forward”.

The three co-founders of Nine13sports share the same visions and passions for community as our family does.  In fact, Lauren and I both view John and Ken and their respective families as an extension of our own.  We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have the support of both of them over these last two years and they have always stepped up when I needed to stop back from my role within Nine13sports to grieve, process, cope, or heal.  I could not ask for a better support team to interact with every single day than my family—both immediate and “extended”.

filming for an advocacy story in our home

It’s easy to dwell on all the negativity in our personal life, in the world, and in our minds.  It’s incredibly easy to forget the real effort that must be undertaken to define Community, Responsibility and Paying Forward.  One thing that helped us get through those moments of darkness over the last two years was working on programs to help make an impact for others both in the present and future.

Lauren and I have personally undertaken involvement with the National Coalition for Safer Roads and their campaign on red light awareness.  An almost 7 minute film will be debuting in the next few days that will feature our story and is being released to coincide with National “STOP ON RED!” week nationwide.  We’ve begun the grueling journey to seek changes to the Indiana Code related to a lack of criminal options that would have held our improperly licensed driver who ran a red light to something more than a $150 ticket.

This pledge for $25,000 and the ultimate fundraising concept behind it with the minimum goal of $250,000 defines Community, Responsibility and Paying Forward in the best way we know how.  Nine13sports was created to provide health and exercise programs for a variety of kids through numerous great organizations in town.  Nine13sports was created to be diverse, to be able and provide programming one day in an area where over 75% of the students come from demographics that put them at or below the poverty line; and the next day travel to suburban Indianapolis and work with kids who don’t even give pause to the thought of higher education because that’s their typical path.  Nine13sports doesn’t talk about diversity because it’s not our selling point or something we think about—our selling point is using the bicycle as a tool for exercise and education and interconnect all facets of the Central Indiana community.  This concept and the organization that was built around it is what we feel meets the perfect definition of individual and corporate Community, Diversity, and Paying Forward.

Nine13sports consistently competes with thousands of other small nonprofits throughout the country for limited grant dollars.  We learned early on that getting the first competitive grant is by far the hardest thing to do and once that occurs fundraising typically sees more success through further grants.  I write that to clarify that while Lauren and I are doing this for purely altruistic reasons I certainly do hope and expect that this will open additional doors to Nine13sports and be a defining moment for the organization we have built.

Additionally; we steadfastly believe that those terms can’t be defined or solved with just one family or organization.  It truly takes a community effort and that’s why we developed something that incorporates a variety of philanthropic sources towards a common goal.  We hope to garner the support needed for success with this fundraising goal from as diverse a pool of Foundations Grants, and Individuals as Nine13sports strives to serve with daily operations.

While we knew we wanted to do something in the community with a portion of our finances, we were at a loss for what might be the best way to engage philanthropically for a long time.  It wasn’t till last month after a great day of programming at Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis that I began to lay the initial thoughts that became this concept.

What was the initial catalyst for this idea?

Watching a young boy (8-10 years old) trip and fall while running outside as I walked to my Jeep after a day of programming; as he screamed from both the startle and pain of tripping and contacting the ground—I began to walk over to him—only to have three of his classmates rush past me in a sprint to get to him.  I paused, and watched those three friends of his check on him, make sure he was okay, and help pick him up to his feet.  These boys earlier in the day had all participated in our Nine13sports programming and absolutely loved the bicycle and kept coming back wanting to ride again and this whole scene just resonated with me.

I got into my Jeep and sat there thinking about the absolute perfection that those three boys displayed in terms of Community and Responsibility as they stopped playing basketball to run over and help a fallen friend.  As I drove, I mentally laid out what we as a family could do to define those same words in a passionate and heartfelt way.  Within an hour I had talked with Lauren about this concept and began to further refine it and approach John and Ken with the idea.

our wedding in the Methodist Hospital conference room with Ken, John and the rest of our support system standing with us

In closing; Ken was on that bus with Lauren and I that day and experienced the same tragedy as he picked me up to my feet and stood by our side.  John was there within minutes of learning what happened to help give support to us as a family that day.  John stood up with us as a groomsman, even though hours earlier he was not one.  John and Ken both deserve recognition for the efforts and passion that have molded Nine13sports and if it weren’t for what Lauren and I believe the future can bring with the success of this fundraising and business growth we would not be launching this philanthropic endeavor to begin with.

Lauren and I with Jim’s nephews whom we strive to create a legacy in honor of “Uncle Jim”

Our donation is in memory of our friend Jim Douglas.  Jim was the first person I asked to join our Board before it was even established and I know he shared the same passion for youth and cycling that defines Nine13sports.  Deeper than that, is the respect Lauren and I had for what Jim’s true character was and the impact he made in our lives both in life and death.  Community, Responsibility and Paying Forward all translate into who Jim was and we hope that this donation is just one of many avenues that will allow his memory to live on and directly make an impact for thousands of Central Indiana youth.

in honor of this guy


On behalf of Lauren and myself as the Hanley’s—we appreciate your support.

Tom Hanley

Director of Business Development