Sara Blau, 17


Ever since Sara Blau first started playing sports in kindergarten, she’s appreciated the value of simply putting a ball through a hoop or catching a pop-fly. She also “really loved the team aspect,” said Blau, a high school senior.

But during her sophomore year, she recognized an inequality. “I realized that so many children did not have that same opportunity as I did,” she said. She decided to found Game Changers New York. “I wanted to give a ball for all, allowing every child the opportunity to become an athlete,” Blau said.

Game Changers New York partners with more than 23 organizations around the world who provide athletic programs for children. By holding collection drives, Game Changers has been able to donate over 6,650 pieces of equipment to thousands of children with disabilities or those who could not otherwise afford sports equipment.

After a successful first fundraiser, Blau never looked back. She registered Game Changers as a 501(c)(3), created a teen board, got together an advisory board and has amassed more than 65 volunteers. “Game Changers is almost 100 percent [run] by teens,” Blau said.

Still, Blau maintains she’s just like everyone else. “While I am studying for APs right now, we’re also planning fundraisers and reaching out to partner organizations, so it has really just become a part of my normal routine,” said Blau, who is also the captain of the tennis and softball teams at The Schechter School of Long Island and president of The Human Rights Advocates Club.

When reflecting on the success of the organization, Blau credits her Jewish upbringing and its emphasis on tikkun olam. “Those values are so important in Judaism and they were embedded in me from such a young age.”

As she heads to her gap year in Israel and then goes on to attend the University of Maryland’s business school, Blau said she plans on reducing her participation in the nonprofit during the next few years, recognizing the importance of getting other teens involved. “I’ll let other kids take a leadership role in the future,” she said.

Toss her a ball: In addition to her expertise with the tennis and softball, Blau can also juggle.

Meet the rest of this year’s 36 Under 36 here.