The Play for Life Foundation began in 2021 with a Single Vision: To improve the mental and physical health of the most at risk in our community, by living a more active and healthier lifestyle through the sport of Pickleball. We serve Youth, Veterans, and First Responders
The Play for Life Foundation’s mission is to introduce the sport of pickleball to our community’s youth, veterans, and first responders. Each qualified organization is granted a Club-N-Box, containing nets, paddles, balls, and instructional material on how to play and setup a court.
- Active Military & Veterans
- Firefighters & EMT
- Law Enforcement
Available survey data indicate that fewer than 1 in 4 adolescents meets the recommended guidelines for physical activity – 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily. Developing healthy eating and exercise habits at this age are foundations for good health in adulthood. Majority of youths physical activity comes from school during their physical education courses, clubs, or youth organizations. Providing access to physical activity is important for all but especially important to children and adolescents.
We owe our veterans, the men, and women, the young and old, from all walks of life our support for their life. We have over 80,000 veterans in our community, many with disabilities many suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The unseen scars of military trauma can lead to isolation, depression, anxiety, waking flashbacks, terrifying nightmares, and hyper-vigilance even in the safest places.
At the Play For life Foundation, we recognize the power of partnerships, which quickly become friendships. Our community partners provide not only monetary contributions but in-kind-support that helps us provide our Club-N-Box free of charge throughout our community. Our partners impact our community.
Meet Our Team
Board of Directors
Brian has developed more than ½ billion dollars of commercial real estate during his career. He is currently the founder & CEO of The Pickleball Club LLC. Currently constructing their first facility in Lakewood Ranch, Sarasota and developing four additional clubs in Port St Lucie, Sarasota, Bonita Springs, and Fort Myers. The company plans on developing 15 clubs in Florida. Brian is a combat disabled Veteran, having served from Vietnam to Desert Storm as a surface warfare officer and logistician in the United States Navy - He retired with 30 years of service at the rank of Rear Admiral and personally decorated ten times. He earned a BS in Engineering Science from Oakland University, an MBA from the Harvard Business School and was an Associate Professor at Pepperdine University.
Brian is active in our community, having served on non-profit boards and held numerous leadership positions in non-profit organizations: First Vice President of the Pops Orchestra, Chair of United Way’s Mission United Advisory Council, President of the Military Officers Association of Sarasota, and Executive Director of the Sarasota Military Officers Foundation. Brian currently serves as a Trustee of the Players Centre for Performing Arts and is Chairman & President of the Play For Life Foundation, Inc.
Valerie has been involved in physical fitness her entire career, with over 20 years’ experience in the fitness industry. She held numerous positions in the non-profit YMCA. Her last position as Executive Director of facilities in Mountain View and Palo Alto California. Valerie founded and operated FLEX FITNESS, a successful fitness facility in Sausalito, California for nearly a decade. Valerie holds a BS and MS in Exercise Physiology from Kent State University.
Valerie is active in our community in the following non-profit organizations, Chair of Business Development for United Way’s Mission United Advisory Council, Member of the Military Officers Association of Sarasota, and Chair of Event Planning for the Sarasota Military Officers Foundation. Valerie currently serves as the Executive Director of the Play For Life Foundation, Inc.
Tom has been in the investment advisory and financial services industry for over 50 years; 35 of those years with Robert W. Baird & Company, during which time he spearheaded a move by the Milwaukee based firm to develop a presence in Florida and the Southeastern U.S. He was also engaged in the expansion of their European subsidiary as Deputy Chairman of Granville-Baird based in London, England. He is currently a Wealth Advisor for SRQ Wealth in Sarasota, FL. Tom has served on various industry committees and continues to advise a select group of financial clients.
Tom served 6 years on the board of The Pops Orchestra as the First Vice President and is an advisory board member for the USF School of Hospitality and Tourism Leadership. He is currently serving as a Trustee for the Players Centre for Performing Arts as Chair of the Development Committee. He was a founding board member and the first chairman of “The Care Club of Collier County,” an Alzheimer’s and dementia day care facility serving Southwest Florida; chaired the Development Committee of the USF Institute on Aging; and served on the Executive Committee for the Lifelong Learning Academy. Tom currently serves as the Treasurer of the the Play For Life Foundation, Inc.
Chris is a former Florida licensed insurance agent with Northwestern Mutual Life, retired Assistant Vice President of Bank of America’s Trust Department and a former two term commissioner for the City of Anna Maria, Florida. For the past 20 years she has been an event/wedding planner and officiant. She enjoys networking in Manatee County with several groups. She served on many charitable boards including The Children’s Home, which is the oldest charity on the west coast of Florida and spent years as a Child Advocate. Chris is a watercolor artist and golfer!! After leaving the Midwest in 1987, Chris and Tom call Florida home. Together they have five grown children and seven grandchildren. Chris currently serves as the Secretary of the Play for Life Foundation, Inc.
Karen Conkel has been called a “serial entrepreneur”, with businesses in dental consulting, real estate investing and manufacturing, along with her 30+ year career as a dental hygienist. Karen’s encore career is Associate Director of Philanthropy at Southeastern Guide Dogs. Karen and her sidekick, Southeastern Guide Dog Ambassador Levi, enjoy sharing the mission on behalf of the visually impaired and veterans with PTSD . Karen and her husband and fellow entrepreneur Kevin, live off the Manatee River in Bradenton, Fl. She loves to fish, golf, bowl, learn, laugh, and share adventures with Kevin and Levi. And now she loves Pickleball! Karen currently serves as a Board Member of the Play For Life Foundation, Inc.
Linda retired as a Colonel from the U.S. Army in 2011, with more than 29 years of active-duty service. She served first as a Military Intelligence Officer and then as a fully accredited Latin American Foreign Area Officer. Her career highlight was serving as the Commander of the US Military Group in Guatemala from 2006–2009, the first female Army officer to command a US Military Group in Latin America.
Since retiring from the U.S. Army and returning home to Sarasota, Linda has become very involved in the Sarasota community through volunteering for the American Red Cross, the US Masters Swimming organization, and the Military Officers Association of America Sarasota Chapter. Linda was named Sarasota County Female Veteran of the Year for 2015 and is a graduate of Leadership Sarasota County, Class of 2018. Through her consulting business, Gould Solutions, Linda consults in the community on various projects, most notably for The Patterson Foundation on their Military Initiative and Patriot Plaza, the outdoor amphitheater at Sarasota National Cemetery. Linda currently serves as a Board Member of the Play For Life Foundation, Inc.