The story of Gelindo “Lindy” Infante is one of humble beginnings and inspiring achievements.
Born in 1940 in Miami, Florida, Lindy experienced adversity early in life, including the loss of his mother at age 12. Facing considerable hardships, Lindy lacked a sense of direction—until a chance opportunity brought out his greatness.
At just 14 years old, Lindy entered a nationally sponsored race through the Boys & Girls Clubs, where he placed in the top 10 in the country. That was just the beginning of a successful athletic career that included playing college football, working for several National Football League (NFL) teams, and being named the NFL’s Coach of the Year as Head Coach of the Green Bay Packers.
Today, Lindy is best remembered for his drive to succeed and bring out the best in those around him. Although Lindy passed away in 2015, his legacy lives on through the Lindy Infante Foundation, whose mission is to ensure all children have the opportunity to participate and excel in youth sports.
Founded in 2017 by Brad and Stephanie Infante to honor Brad’s father, the Lindy Infante Foundation partners with nonprofit organizations—including Boys & Girls Clubs of Columbus, KIPP Columbus, Girls on the Run, Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, and others—to help kids get off the sidelines and into the game. Through its programs, the Lindy Infante Foundation helps make sports accessible to all children regardless of their family’s income or ZIP code.
Stephanie Infante, President of the Lindy Infante Foundation, at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Ohio’s Milo-Grogan Clubhouse.
Stephanie, President of the Lindy Infante Foundation, said youth sports offer many benefits, ranging from improved physical and mental health to better performance in school.
“Sports can be a catalyst for meeting new friends, having positive peer groups and mentors, and being part of a positive environment. Sports also help youth develop teamwork and leadership skills,” said Stephanie. “When kids are involved in sports, they feel a sense of belonging. And when you belong to something, such as a team, you want to do better.”
In 2021, as part of an ongoing partnership between The Columbus Foundation, the Lindy Infante Foundation, the Aspen Institute, and other organizations, the Aspen Institute released State of Play Central Ohio, a comprehensive report that analyzed the state of youth sports in the region. The report also offered recommendations to expand access to sports, physical activity, and outdoor recreation for all children, regardless of race, gender, family income, or ability. Among other findings, the report showed a stark divide based on race and income in youth sports experiences for children in central Ohio. Stephanie said the report was eye-opening to many in the community.
“A lot of people weren’t aware of the disparities,” explained Stephanie. “The report really exposed just how much of a need there is in the community.”
In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic halted most group sports activities, the Lindy Infante Foundation quickly pivoted to ensure youth had access to sports. Through a partnership with OSU LiFEsports, the organization launched the Sport In A Bag Initiative, which provides sports equipment and instructional guides to children throughout Ohio to help them stay active. The program remains in place today and has served more than 15,000 children.
In 2018, the Lindy Infante Foundation established the Lindy Infante Foundation Fund, a Donor Advised Fund at The Columbus Foundation. Through the fund, the organization hopes to continue to develop partnerships and expand its reach. Additionally, the Lindy Infante Foundation is working with The Columbus Foundation and other community partners to launch the Central Ohio Youth Sports Collaborative. This centralized effort will enhance the capacity of youth-serving organizations in central Ohio to provide high-level sports-based youth development programs to youth in every community.
In short, the goal is to inspire more youth to live like Lindy.
“For us, living like Lindy means that no matter what the circumstances are in your life, there’s always an opportunity for better,” said Stephanie.