Our Story

Anyone who has been involved in a team sport can speak from experience on the power of team. Together, teammates learn incredible life lessons about hard work, accountability, teamwork, perseverance, leadership, adversity, and grit.

In 2011, eight former college classmates and student-athletes came together in Boston to celebrate something at the core of their friendship: the power of team. On Mother’s Day of 2011, this group of friends launched Team IMPACT — now a national nonprofit that connects children with serious illnesses or disabilities with college athletic teams — by matching Ben, a nine-year-old battling cancer, with the St. Anselm’s College men’s hockey team.

Inspired by his brother Chris, Jay Calnan was driven to find a way to ensure no child was sidelined by sickness or disability. Chris, a longtime sports fan who was born with a condition that prevented him from participating in sports after the age of 12, got his opportunity to be on a team when the Bristol Red Sox, a minor league AA baseball team, took him under its wing as an official team batboy. This sparked an idea in Jay, who leveraged his relationships with a passionate group of leaders — Dan Kraft, Dan Walsh, Kris Herman, Tim Kelly, Robert Tishman, Mark Plansky, and Scott Tully — to bring this dream to life. Their years of personal experience on and off the field gave them opportunities to witness the impact a college athletic team can have on the mental, emotional, social, and physical wellbeing of a sick or disabled child.

Together, these founders leaned on their strengths and played a significant role in the inception of Team IMPACT. The inaugural Co-Chairs of the Board, Jay Calnan and Dan Kraft, opened their networks and created the initial groundswell of support to get Team IMPACT off the ground. Dan Walsh and Kris Herman constructed Team IMPACT’s first blueprint and strategic plan that operationalized the program for the first five years. Tim Kelly managed the finances and legalization of the organization, while Robert Tishman, Mark Plansky, and Scott Tully leveraged their relationships in the financial services, real estate, and athletic communities to rally the first surge of teams and investors to get involved. This was the true definition of teamwork. Each focused their energy, personal financial investments, and individual skills to build the organization through hard work, networking, and unwavering passion for the mission of Team IMPACT.

Through a two-year therapeutic program, Team IMPACT has fostered relationships that have enhanced the lives of thousands of courageous children and tens of thousands of student-athletes across the country. The team behind Team IMPACT is honored and inspired to continue expanding the long-standing tradition of athletes contributing to something far greater than themselves. The student-athletes in our program extend their commitment to their team and to each other to provide sick and disabled children in their local community a profound sense of belonging, demonstrating their steadfast support for each and every member of the team through adversity — on and off the field.

What began in the back offices of J.Calnan & Associates in Boston is now a national nonprofit with regional offices across the United States. Our impact is decades-long and nationwide — and we are just getting started.