I attended a terrific forum yesterday at the headquarters of Gannett / USA Today in Tysons Corner, VA.   It was a “Sports Philanthropy Forum” — which featured leading philanthropists, professional athletes, media executives and community service executives from professional leagues and teams.

Kudos to the Gannett / USA Today management for hosting this type of event.   As I blog about often, my main areas of passion are Sports, Philanthropy and Education.   So, this forum really hit home yesterday.  I couldn’t agree more with many of the points raised and articulated by the panelists and guest speakers.

In particular, I was moved and inspired by a panel hosted by Christine Brennan, one of the top sportswriters in the industry.  She hosted a session featuring all-time NBA greats Dikembe Mutombo and Bob Lanier and NHL legend, Pat LaFontaine.   Each one of these athletes spoke about the importance of “getting involved and giving back to the community.”   Their personal stories were heart-warming and moving.

They all spoke about how everyone can give back … it’s not just pro athletes or wealthy people who write checks that “give back.”   Everyone can give back in one way or another … helping teach a young child to read, helping teach a person who is new to this country to read English, serving food to the elderly, being there as a big brother or big sister to youth who may not have adult role models in their lives, going to the hospital or senior homes to read or listen to those that may not have family members nearby, etc.  There are so many countless ways to get involved and to help.

I have seen a revolution starting to take place …the younger generation — the 20’s crowd … is getting much more involved in volunteering and community service.  I’m proud of my Georgetown students that are getting involved or that are asking how they can volunteer and give back.  I’ve had a number of my students sign up as teachers in the wonderful “Teach for America” program.  A number of our grad students have inquired about volunteering with a few of the non-profit organizations I work with in DC.  Nothing gives me more pride than seeing our youth want to activate and get involved to help others that may come from tougher or less-fortunate backgrounds.

Thanks to Gannett / USA Today and to the many executives who shared their wisdom and insight yesterday.  We need to keep spreading the message about the importance of mentoring, volunteering, community service and helping others.