As Indiana’s Gatorade Player of the Year, Madison Layden chose to donate her $1,000 grant to Carver Community Center last week.
Through Gatorade’s Play It Forward initiative, Layden was given the option to pick a local or national youth sports organization to give the money to. Having gotten her start at Carver Community Center through the Police Athletic League (PAL), the Northwestern senior decided to give back to the community that helped build her. According to Carver Community Center’s Executive Director Dantá Rogers, the donation came as a surprise.
Layden, her mother Kathie Layden, and her sister McKenna Layden, all showed up to Carver Community Center last week. Rogers said he was excited to see them and talk with them before discovering the reason for their visit.
“My reaction was, ‘Wow, are you kidding me?’ That was it. It was, ‘Wow.’ I just couldn’t stop smiling and thanking [Layden]. It came from a two-time state champion and runner-up. That’s just wild. I appreciate it. You can’t say enough ‘thank yous’ to people like that,” Rogers said.
Rogers thought it was an uncommon practice for individuals as young as Layden to think about giving back like she did. Additionally, he was grateful for the funds as Carver Community Center always has programs or projects to improve on, he said.
“We really need it. Any funds that come through our door right now is greatly appreciated because we just need things done over here at Carver that it’s hard to do without our grants and memberships. It just came at the right time. I think coming from her, it makes it even better … That means a lot to Carver Community Center [from] the people who do that,” Rogers said.
Rogers said the money will go back to the academic and athletic programs offered by the center, many of which are for children. Additionally, he said a portion of the funds may go toward the building and grounds as needed.
Last year, Layden’s teammate and Michigan State-signee Kendall Bostic held a free InspireHer girls’ basketball camp at Carver Community Center. With 43 elementary and middle school students in attendance and a high demand for another camp, according to Rogers, he said he hoped Layden would come back after her collegiate career at Purdue University and host a camp or clinic in a similar capacity.
Impressed with the characters of both Layden and Bostic, Rogers credited the Northwestern coaching staff for great leadership.
“I give nothing but praises to them guys and their coaches … The whole coaching staff has some great players on that team and still on that team. I give big praises to all the coaching staff at Northwestern,” Rogers said.
In addition to the $1,000 grant, Layden will have the option to award Carver Community Center another $10,000 by writing a brief essay. One essay for each sport will be selected.
As one of the 607 state winners, Layden will be in the running to be named as one of the 12 national winners, which is scheduled to be announced this month.