Doing Good: Arkansas Athletes Outreach expands and gives kids outlet during pandemic

Doing Good

AAO opened a new facility in Rogers last summer and launched its first-ever youth football league.

Rogers, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — During the COVID-19 pandemic, Arkansas Athletes Outreach continued to provide an important outlet for our kids and managed to expand while doing so.

The training at Arkansas Athletes Outreach goes beyond just games.

“Our programs are geared toward much more than the sport itself. That’s why in that mission statement we talk about building champions for life,” AAO Director of Player Development Kyle Unruh said.

It is building character for kids to succeed later in life. But there were more young athletes that AAO was not reaching at its Fayetteville facility.

“We were maxing out that facility in terms of our programs. Most of our programs were taking on waiting lists,” Unruh said.

So this past summer, it opened a new spot in Rogers with four basketball courts and two outdoor fields. The new facility is 55,000 square feet. It was a big undertaking, especially during the pandemic.

“I’ve just been blown away by the staff how well organized they are, how they prioritize safety first,” AAO board president Mike Klaas said.

The staff has worked hard to keep things clean, change up entrances and exits and limit capacity. It has not been easy but AAO still had a successful launch of a new football league and is now playing basketball.

“We’ve had to account for some big hits to our income. Our concessions are down significantly and that’s a big driver of our revenue,” Klaas said.

But it pays off in other ways.

“So many parents have come up to us and said just thank you so much because we were just looking for anything that could provide us a sense of normalcy and this is one of those things and that just means the world to us and to all of our staff,” Klass said.

AAO could use some financial support right now. If you are interested in giving, click here.

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