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New Leader, Same Mission: Bob Gill Takes The Reins Of Liam Nation

Jul 10, 2017 07:51PM ● By Bill Gilman

Bob Gill

These are exciting times for the Liam Nation Foundation -- new opportunities for young athletes, new funding sources, new board members and a new leader.
Bob Gill, who has served as director of athletics for the non-profit organization has several years, has been chosen to succeed co-founder Erin Knyff, as president. Knyff, who will remain on the board in an advisory capacity, said she felt the time was right to hand off the reins and wanted to be able to put more of her time and energy into her three children.
"Bob is the right person for the job," said Knyff. "He's done such a great job overseeing the athletics program."
Knyff's husband, and Liam Nation co-founder, Adrian Knyff, will remain on the board as senior  vice president, with June Souza remaining as vice president. Tricia Sousa serves as treasurer. The group is searching for a new director of athletics.
Gill is enthusiastic about where Liam Nation is now and where it's headed. The foundation presently offers spring and fall soccer, basketball, baseball, floor hockey, ultimate frisbee, mini-golf and bowling for special needs athletes ranging in age from toddlers to adult.
"We have over 75 athletes registered and the range up to 34 years old now," said Gill. "The important thing is that these sports are not funded by the parents or families. They are not charged anything to participate."
Liam Nation is able to keep the programs free through fundraising efforts and corporate donations. Liam Nation got a huge boost recently, when it received  a $10,000 grant from Teamsters Local 25's Autism Fund.
To that end, Gill said Liam Nation is looking to bring a grant writer on board, to help the group access all available funding streams.
Another new offering for Liam Nation is structured support for the parents of special needs children.
"We're looking to set up nights for the parents to help support their mental and emotional health," said Gill. "we want to have moms' nights, dads' nights, date nights."
Gill said June Fullerton is hosting a monthly parents support group meeting on the last Wednesday of each month at the Tewksbury Senior Center.
"Grandparents are also welcome," he said.
If there is an area Gill sees as needing a boost, its with volunteers.
"We have about 55 volunteers but we could definitely use some more. We're a little light," said Gill, adding that the goal is to be as close as possible to a 1-to-1 volunteers to athletes ratio.
Gill's leadership team got an influx of fresh blood recently with the addition of three new board members.
"All of them are parents with special needs children," he said.
The next major event for Liam Nation is the foundation's biggest annual fundraiser, Laughs for Liam Nation. This year, the comedy features Boston favorite Lenny Clarke, the iconic Jimmy "JJ" Walker of "Good Times" fame, along with Rocky LaPorte and, of course, Liam Nation board member Johnny Pizzi.
The event will take place Sept. 30 at Crestview Plaza in Woburn. Tickets for the event, which includes dinner, are $50 per person. Tickets can be purchased at www.liamnation.org.

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