SPARKS, Md. --- Moravian College men's lacrosse freshman goalie Will Dadouris has been named by US Lacrosse as a 2017 Founders' Circle Award winner.
US Lacrosse presents the Founders, Circle award to someone who has founded a program, product, or idea that has staying power within the sport. This individual has a positive impact on the youth game and/or its constituents and thoroughly embraces the mission and vision of US Lacrosse (https://www.uslacrosse.org/).
Dadouris first traveled to Jamaica in 2013 to teach the sport of lacrosse, and after seeing the positive influence on the children, he returned home and founded ReLax Collections (http://www.relaxcollections.org/). This non-profit company collects new and used lacrosse equipment from across the United States and then redistributes its inventory around the world to groups wanting to introduce the sport of lacrosse but needing equipment.
"I got started out in my freshman year of high school when I joined a group of volunteers on a week-long trip to Jamaica. We were going to help bring the sport of lacrosse to local children, but they didn't have any equipment. We each shoved our own clothes in backpacks and brought along two duffels filled with donated equipment," Dadouris explained. "I collected so much that one of the other volunteers had to help me bring it down. I sort of got hooked on that and I just continued collecting equipment, and it went from just a couple helmets to a couple dozen to now close to five hundred helmets."
What started out as a trip to one small island country has grown into a project that now stretches around the world.
"ReLax Collections grew from just helping out in Jamaica to supporting the growth of teams in their countries including Uganda, Canada, Costa Rica, Malaysia and towns right here inside the United States from New Jersey down to Florida," Dadouris said. "Many of these places face the same issues as Jamaica initially did. Lacrosse is an expensive sport and you have to invest a couple of hundred dollars just to get started. We're just trying to get gear into the hands of everyone that wants to play and be certain that they can do it safely."
Dadouris founded ReLax Collections in 2015, two years after his initial trip to Jamaica, and is still running the company out of his parents' house.
"I realized that as I kept collecting equipment, I should make this into an organization. We first started in small part of our family's garage, expanded to the entire basement, and now it has taken over an entire three-car garage at my dad's office," stated Dadouris. "We started with a couple thousand dollars' worth of used equipment donations the first year and have grown to just under $300,000 dollars this year. It's awesome because now as a certified nonprofit, we can work with major companies. This gives them a way to donate older inventory as they get ready for the next year. It is tremendous that these companies are donating directly to us for further distribution since we have the process in place to get it to the youth programs that need it."
Dadouris continues to travel as well.
"I spent six weeks down in Jamaica this summer, and it was great feeling to see all of the equipment packed up in New Jersey and then to be there when the shipment arrives," Dadouris commented. "Seeing the difference, we are making is really cool and something that I am proud to be working on. We went to different parts of the island to teach lacrosse to the children and when we pulled out the equipment for them to use, their reactions were priceless.
While he hasn't begun his collegiate career yet, Dadouris is appreciative of the award from US Lacrosse and what it means for his future.
"I am excited to receive the Founders' Circle award from US Lacrosse. It has been a lot of hard work but I need to thank my parents for all of the help that they've given me along the way from using the house to store all of the donations to helping me with the taxes, something you don't expect to be doing at age sixteen. My friends have helped out a lot too by sharing stories on Instagram or buying t-shirts to help with fundraisers. Mainly, I want to thank all of the individuals, teams, and companies who have generously donated to ReLax. I want to keep helping so I plan to continue growing ReLax Collections," Dadouris finished.
Dadouris is set to begin his first collegiate season when the Greyhounds open the 2018 season on Saturday, February 24 at Alfred University with a non-conference match beginning at 1:00 p.m.