LI Metro Lacrosse Foundation

Is there anything more uplifting than receiving an unexpected gift? 

Last month, a local donor with no connection to lacrosse reached out to the Long Island Metro Lacrosse Foundation, a regional chapter of US Lacrosse, to provide a huge assist in support of the chapter’s community outreach program. 

The monetary gift was so generous and unexpected that the chapter’s leadership felt compelled to verify the gesture before accepting the goodwill offering. 

“We were caught off guard and we asked to meet with the donor to check it out,” said Mike Nelson, LIMLF president. “It turns out, he just wanted to help.”

In the midst of the most disrupted lacrosse year anyone can remember, the unanticipated gift provided both immediate assistance as well as renewed hope for the future.

“He expressed to us his desire to help make a difference,” Nelson said. “He surfaced out of nowhere.”

The LIMLF’s outreach program is a multi-faceted effort that seeks to bring the joy of the sport to a diverse and growing lacrosse community. The goal is to spread the game to areas that have not previously played lacrosse.

Relying largely on funding support from individuals and equipment donations from established lacrosse programs, through the years the LIMLF has equipped many new players with needed sticks, helmets, gloves and arm pads. The chapter provides hundreds of sticks annually to low income and economically challenged participants in and around Long Island and New York City.

LIMLF volunteers also work with administrators and coaches of new organizations to teach them how to run effective programs and successfully coach new participants.

“Our outreach program is a way to give back to the game, but it really depends on the generosity of other people to be successful,” Nelson said.

Prompted by news that regional retailer Modell’s Sporting Goods was going out of business and liquidating its inventory at deep discount prices, Dr. Neeraj Modi decided to act quickly. As a diagnostic radiology specialist based in New York, Modi had no prior connection to lacrosse, but he knew that discounts as high as 80-percent off could significantly benefit a youth organization.

“I just thought that it would be a wasted opportunity not to take advantage of the close out prices,” Modi said. 

He visited his local Modell’s store to assess the remaining inventory and noticed a lot of lacrosse gear still on the shelves.

“The call came from Dr. Modi after hours on a Thursday night, and within 72 hours I had a check in my hand to purchase equipment,” said Harry Jacobs, regional manager for membership and regional development at US Lacrosse. 

While Modi didn’t initially specify that the donation be applied to the chapter’s outreach initiative, he eagerly supported Nelson’s suggestion.

“His eyes lit up when we discussed our outreach program and the goal of helping those in need,” Nelson said. “He seemed very happy to know that the money would be applied to that effort.”

Modi, a Long Island native who attended Johns Hopkins University as an undergraduate but never attended a lacrosse game during his four years on campus, also made contributions to local youth baseball and youth soccer organizations to help them capitalize on Modell’s close out discounts.

“I know that there are people who would like to play these sports if given the chance,” said Modi, who describes himself as primarily being a tennis fan. “I figured there was a lot of bang-for-the-buck here.”

Nelson and Jacobs gladly coordinated the Modell’s shopping spree, which replenished the chapter’s inventory of equipment.

“We filled up a couple of truckloads,” Nelson said. “We cleaned them out.”

Afterwards, Nelson and Jacobs invited Modi to visit the LIMLF’s storage facility to see the haul that he made possible through his generosity.

“This really demonstrates that we still have so many good people in the community who just want to help others,” Jacobs said. “It’s a feel-good story because of Dr. Modi’s big heart.”