ODS Gives 2020 Changemaker Awards to Three Amazing Locals

Written by: Sarah Albus Posted on: May 14, 2020 Tagged: awards Community Special Needs disabilities Open Door Sports Blog: News

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It is with mixed emotions that I write today to announce our 2020 ODS Changemaker Awards. This presentation was originally scheduled to take place last Saturday night at our annual Opening Doors, Opening Hearts Gala, which had to be cancelled due to the global health crisis. While I am sad that I can't present these awards in person, my heart is full of joy and gratitude that the following amazing individuals came into my life and have shared their talents, kindness, and generosity with the ODS community.

This year, the Board of Open Door Sports has awarded the ODS Youth Changemaker Award to two spectacular teenagers, Jacob Gaum and Natasha Greenstein and the ODS Changemaker Award goes to Ellie Shorb.


Jacob Gaum, an 8th grader at Pyle Middle School has been a peer buddy in our organization for the past three years, volunteering in every season throughout the school year and often at more than one school location. He also planned, organized, and ran a Fun Field Day for ALL last spring at Bethesda Elementary, providing another active, fun and inclusive opportunity for ODS players and their families to enjoy sports. This is impressive for anyone, let alone a 12 year old boy.

"Thank you for this honor I really appreciate all of the friendships and great experiences I have made through Open Door Sports! From Anderson's jokes to Hannah’s perseverance, I really enjoy helping out and bonding with everyone. Thanks to Open Door Sports, I have been able to create memories that will last a lifetime. "


Natasha Greenstein, a senior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, reached out to ODS in January of 2019 with the idea of holding a free adapted Tae Kwon Do Class for ODS players. Natasha developed the class, organized the necessary volunteer peer buddies and coached the class with great energy, enthusiasm and understanding. The event received rave reviews from parents and kids alike and since that time, she has taught the class on a monthly basis. And during the COVID-19 crisis, Natasha asked to hold a bi-weekly online class through Zoom. The initiative and confidence shown by Natasha is incredibly impressive and is indicative of an incredibly kind and giving heart. Natasha will take her talents this fall to the campus of Princeton University, where I am confident she will continue to do great things!

"As a martial arts instructor, I have worked with kids of all different mindsets. There are kids who love the craft more than a hobby, and there are those who would rather be anywhere but the studio. Before working with ODS, I had never experienced such passion and enthusiasm from my students. In every adapted Tae Kwon Do class, the players not only put in 110%, but also reminded me why I became a teacher in the first place. Seeing Vic perform incredible jump kicks, or having Josh knock me over with his powerful sidekick, makes sharing my love for martial arts the incredible experience that it is. I am beyond grateful to receive the ODS Changemaker Award, and hope to continue working with ODS, and all the wonderful players and coaches I've been lucky enough to meet."


Ellie Shorb came to the ODS family as a friend and supporter from the very beginning, shining her light on our mission from day one. Whether it is her annual corporate sponsorship, or her in person support of our events, she has gone above and beyond to help Open Door Sports thrive in our community. To top it all off, she spent her own time and resources to create and share throughout the DC area the beautiful #Doing Good in DC video that showcased why we do what we do at ODS. I am thankful for her support and friendship, and am honored to present her with this year's award.

“Meeting Sarah Albus through one of my dear friends was a pivotal day, because I could tell then, and know now , that she is a true warrior for good. A few years ago, I attended my first ODS event, and meeting so many of the children who have been touched by this fabulous organization was inspirational. I am forever changed for the better by knowing the ODS families and supporters I’ve met. Personally, I would like to see ODS become a national movement so that schools across the country can share sports and special new relationships with kids of all abilities - physical and neurological differences should not hinder love and friendship."