Anderson Foundation a memory that gives back

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Grandson Ryan Anderson experienced his first kielbasa festival, hosted by his grandfather Reggie Capitan, of Dover, in 2014. Dad Jason Anderson is at the right of Ryan. (Submitted photo/Dave Skocik)

DOVER — In life, sports occupied much of Jason Anderson’s life.

Growing up he played baseball, basketball and football in youth leagues and competed on the track team in high school. As an adult, he chose a career in professional sports, working with the Syracuse Sky Chiefs and the New Orleans Saints before settling in as senior director of ticket sales at Dover International Speedway.

In death, that love of sports lives on through the Jason Anderson Foundation for Youth Sports.

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Jason Anderson, seen here with son Ryan, was killed a year ago. A foundation established in his memory aims to make sports accessible for children in need. (Submitted photo/Reggie Capitan)

Mr. Anderson was one of three people killed on an icy I-476 in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, on Jan. 18, 2015. A dozen vehicles were involved in the chain-reaction crash. He was 33.

He left behind a stunned family, including one-year-old son, Ryan, and wife, Kati.

His father, Marc Anderson of Lewes, established the foundation shortly after Jason’s death.

This weekend, Jason Anderson’s life also is being celebrated as his friends and family gather off Del. 9 for his father-in-law’s annual kielbasa fest.

Canceled last year because of Mr. Anderson’s death, Reggie Capitan this year has renamed his traditional January Polish kielbasa festival, during which he and friends create and smoke their own kielbasa, to honor his son-in-law.

“[Jason] is a true hero and for this reason I am re-naming the fest to the Jason Edward Anderson Memorial Kielbasa Fest,” Mr. Capitan said.

The festival celebrates all things man.

“This is a guys only, old clothes, walk in the mud, eat meat, drink beer, annual bonding event,” said Dave Skocik, of Dover.

“[It’s] gotta be one of the only one of its kind in this PC world,” said the longtime friend of the Capitan family.

While Mr. Anderson’s memory will be cherished during the festival, his family also will be honoring his work within the community through the Jason Anderson Foundation for Youth Sports.

Mr. Anderson devoted much of his time to others and frequently volunteered at local organizations. At the speedway he not only helped with the “FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks” NASCAR Sprint Cup spring races but also helped create Autism Delaware’s POWR program by welcoming an employee with autism onto his ticket staff.

TO HELP To donate to the non-profit Jason Anderson Foundation for Youth Sports, go to its website www.jasonandersonfoundation.org and continue to the page Lend a Hand. If you would like to become a partner in the foundation, please email info@jasonandersonfoundation.org.

TO HELP
To donate to the non-profit Jason Anderson Foundation for Youth Sports, go to its website www.jasonandersonfoundation.org and continue to the page Lend a Hand. If you would like to become a partner in the foundation, please email info@jasonandersonfoundation.org.

“Jason was truly, genuinely, always positive and always looked on the bright side,” said Mark Rossi, the speedway’s vice president for sales and marketing and board member of the foundation.

“He never thought about himself. He was always helping somebody else,” he said. “He always put everybody else first.”

Mr. Anderson’s widow saw that firsthand.

“The best, though, were his quiet moments,” said Kati Capitan-Anderson, “Coming to my therapy office to fix a communication device for a distraught child, buying cookies and oranges from staff members whose children were selling them.”

Now, the foundation that bears his name aims to ensure that children in need would be able to experience the joy of athletics during their younger years, just like the young Jason did.

“The decision to create the foundation occurred not long after Jason’s passing as we had a number of people from his Syracuse (University) and Ohio (University) communities express an interest in starting some type of scholarship program or even a classroom dedication in Jason’s name,” said Marc Anderson.

“Kati was the one that suggested we establish a way to give back to young kids in the community.”

The foundation’s mission is stated on its website. “To provide children in need the opportunity to participate in an organized local community sports program to gain valuable life experiences and the fitness benefits that come with participation in nationally recognized and community sponsored youth sports activities.”

After nearly six months of fundraising, it will begin accepting grant applications for spring programs in February.

“It costs about $100 to $200 for a child to participate in a community-organized sport,” Mr. Anderson said last week. “We will award grants to organizations that can show how the funds awarded will reach the most kids in need.”

By spring, the foundation hopes to award $5,000 to different programs throughout Delaware.

“The goal is to not have any children who can’t participate in sports for financial reasons,” said Mr. Rossi.

With 95 percent of the proceeds going to those in need and all board members working as volunteers, the foundation aims to eventually help communities not only in Delaware, but also in the areas where Jason Anderson lived and thrived — Baltimore, Syracuse, New York, and New Orleans.

“Jason’s greatest gift in life was how he carried himself every day,” Ms. Capitan-Anderson said. “The foundation will exemplify this legacy [of giving to others] and will be a lesson on life and character passed on to our son.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Lexi Coon is a freelance writer residing in the Camden area.

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