It was a good summer for Idaho Rush player Jack Gambassi. Jack is a member of the U13 Swoosh team and has played for Idaho Rush since he began playing the game at the recreation level.
When he’s not making a contribution on the pitch Jack devotes a good deal of his time to volunteering for charitable causes. This past July he travelled with his church youth group from St. Michael’s Cathedral in Boise to Calgary, Canada. He went with an open mind and was ready to accept whatever assignment he was given. He expected soup kitchen, painting or some other traditional type of volunteer service. It was much to his amazement and delight when he was asked to serve as a youth leader at a soccer camp for underprivileged kids in the city.
Jack was responsible for exposing a group of 5- to 7-year-old kids to the game. Many of the kids had never before touched a ball. While his primary job was to lead the kids in fun he claims he managed to teach a few core skills (not headers) while he was at it. Jack enjoys having fun with kids and there couldn’t have been a better match than this assignment.
While the soccer camp was a big thrill, the highlight of his year came in the spring. Jack is a volunteer puppy raiser for Canine Companions for Independence. Canine Companions places services dogs across the U.S., free of charge, with people with disabilities.
From January 2010 through May of 2011 Jack had responsibility to raise a puppy with the hope that it would become a service dog for a person with a disability. After Jack’s sixteen months of puppy raising followed by a year of professional training, Jack’s puppy, Wave, graduated as a service dog. Wave is a special kind of service dog called a “hearing dog”. As the name would imply, Wave was assigned to a person with a hearing disability, who in her words “was dependent and now is independent thanks to Wave and to Jack”.
Canine Companions for Independence has a special tradition where the puppy raiser gets to present “their” dog to the person receiving it. In April 2012 Jack travelled to Santa Rosa, Calif., where he “handed over the leash” as part of a very emotional graduation ceremony.
-- Ron Gambassi