We Can Do More Than Watch the NFL This Weekend

Syria’s civil war has claimed over 200,000 lives and displaced over 11 million people since 2011. Better descriptions than I could ever write exist detailing the war’s timeline, its origins and terror, and the ideologies of its factions. I encourage doing so.


America’s favorite distraction kicks off Thursday. Right now, the start of another NFL season seems secondary, as sports should when measured with the same tape as the real crises afflicting us. I fear, though, that sometimes this perspective is lost.

I’m not here to condemn sports. I love them, especially football, and believe sports instill values of teamwork, sacrifice, loyalty, and commitment through moments that reverberate our hearts and instruct our minds after the act of instruction itself has passed. They have for me. And I know that without them I would lack the same capacity to care.

Which is why I’m considering numbers on the eve of a new season.

Did you know, the combined seating capacity for the 16 home teams during the NFL’s opening weekend is 1.1 million? And that more than 100 million more will watch on TV?

Imagine if each NFL team gave $1.00 of every ticket to a relief organization aiding Syrian refugees. That equals $1.1 million donated.

Imagine if only 50% of us watching football at home offered that same $1.00. That donation would equal more than $50 million. The precedent is not crazy. The world’s other prominent football teams have already donated millions.

Look, I understand that checkbook philanthropy – especially four years into this horrific crisis – can be condemned as the simplest and least impactful way to assist. In many ways, it’s an easy-out meant to appease one’s guilt. Besides, the U.S. has already donated more than $4 billion to Syria only to witness the need necessary to support the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era swell.

Against this backdrop, it’s easy to question the worth of any single dollar. Why continue giving when the crisis only worsens? What good will it do anyways?

Well, here are more numbers on Syria to help answer those questions.

Every day more than 2,000 people place their lives at risk to flee the war-ravaged nation now too deadly to call home.

$140 provides a cash lifeline for a family of three to five for one month. $1,500 can support a family for one year.

$5,500 can refurbish a classroom and pay a teacher’s annual salary. $17,000 refurbishes an entire hospital.

Imagine what $1 million could do? Or $50 million. I lack answers and a better way to help. Doing something, though, seems better than doing nothing.

I love sports. Practicing and committing to the work to excel at them helped shape my outlook on work ethic, compassion, and sacrifice for others. Sports can congregate masses like nothing else. Sometimes, then, we need to take the platform that sports afford and use it for something much bigger than the games themselves.

I will watch the NFL on opening weekend. I have also made a small donation. It isn’t much. But it’s something.

Whether this organization or another, I hope if you’re watching the NFL this weekend that you follow suit. And if you do, please share with me over email at or twitter @kelly_lytle.


$3K for 30 Provides Gifts for 44 Children

$3K for 30 started in 2012 as a fundraiser to celebrate my 30th birthday. The goal was to raise $3,000 to support the Community Christmas program of Sandusky County, Ohio. Community Christmas provides food, gifts, clothes, and other items to individuals in need of aid during the Christmas season. Last year, $3K for 30 raised over $3,500 to support the efforts.

Now in its 2nd year, $3K for 30 exceeded expectations. Thanks to everyone’s generosity, we raised $4,600 and purchased clothes, gifts, and toys for 44 individuals from over 20 families. In addition, we assisted with the purchase of Thanksgiving dinners for 10 families. In total this year, Community Christmas assisted more than 1,000 families and over 3,000 individuals.

I am incredibly thankful for everyone who supported this year’s fundraiser. With your support, we touched many lives and brought holiday smiles to many children and families this year.

To recap this year’s $3K for 30, I created my first infographic. I hope everyone enjoys.

3K for 30

On the road searching for a definition

“But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about in the great outside world of wanting and achieving…The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.”
David Foster Wallace, 2005, Commencement Address to graduates of Kenyon College, Published in This is Water

NO Chairs

We missed a chair…

In late July 2007, I spent one week in New Orleans repainting schools damaged by Hurricane Katrina’s landfall nearly two years earlier. My plane touched down in the Big Easy late on a Sunday morning and after dropping my bags in the cockroach-infested hostel bedroom I would share with twelve others that week, I set off to explore New Orleans.

I bought a tin of Skoal mint snuff, carried a copy of Bryce Courtney’s The Power of One, a blue pen, and pale skin roasting in the suffocating air I collided with on each step. Drops of sweat slid down my frying forehead; the pinch of fiberglass and nicotine jammed into my lower lip seeped into my bloodstream and my head buzzed. I needed relief and found it in the shade of a secluded bar patio near the Garden District and an ice-cold Abita Purple Haze beer.

In one gulp, I sipped away a third of my beer and settled comfortably into my chair. I flipped my book open to the inside of the back cover where I scribbled the following phrase: What Ideas Define Me?


The Value of a Gift

A friend of mine lost his mother to cancer in February 2008. In July 2012, this friend celebrated his future in a beautiful wedding ceremony. To honor his departed mother on this occasion, several former college classmates and I made a small donation in his mother’s name to the local church where she participated actively during her life. Echoing the type of person my friend is, he sent the following thank-you note in response to our gift: