Sam Shake is a Key Peninsula Middle School student in seventh grade. This summer, he will serve as a sports ambassador representing the USA in Holland.

“It is going to be a great trip because this kind of thing is just a once in a lifetime chance. All the experience is so great — I’m going to a country across the world; plus, I can compete in my favorite sport over there. It is just amazing,” he says.

KPMS seventh grader Sam Shake will serve as a People to
People sports ambassador in Holland. Photo by Danna Webster

Shake is a wrestler. This is his fourth year to participate in the sport, two at KPMS and two with Peninsula Youth Wrestling (PYW).

Mark Helwig coached Sam in sixth and seventh grades at KPMS. Helwig wrote a letter of recommendation to People to People, sponsors of the ambassador program. He is familiar with the program professionally and personally. His daughter, Taylor, went to Australia two years ago. He says People to People is a good social program because it provides a growing-up experience. It is usually the first time away from home and family, and allows students to meet new people, learn to manage funds and operate in a foreign environment.

“They are really looking for kids with pretty good grades, involved in athletics, and coachable,” Helwig says. The trip is not cheap — Helwig’s family opted to cover the $5,000 costs for Taylor’s trip to Australia by using money budgeted for their family vacation. Usually, fundraising is one more requirement for students in the program.

Sam’s mother, Stacy Shake, says fundraising is the hardest part. “We are, of course, trying to raise funds, so Sam is looking for some opportunities for work. We also have a donated basket that will be raffled off that we are selling tickets for,” she said via email.

The basket is a donation from the Bee Hive antique shop in Gig Harbor. Raffle tickets are available at the Bee Hive; tickets and the basket will be on display at Key Fitness in Key Center from May 7 to 11 and at the Livable Community Fair on May 12. The winning ticket will be drawn at the fair. A Friday night fundraising skate party is planned for June 29 at the Civic Center.

Sam has posters up advertising work for hire: yard work, cleanup, weeding, storm cleanup, digging, burning. He has already gotten jobs. His mother thinks all the effort is worth it. She sees this as a good experience. “Sam is a good age. He will come back with new maturity. Independence is expected of them,” she says.

The young man leaves for Holland July 20. He is already thinking about what he must do to get ready and what he wants to pack to take with him. The wrestling rules he has learned over the past four years are not the rules that will be used in the games in Holland. “I’ll be wrestling in a different kind of style — free style. I have to learn rules for that to go over there,” he explains. As far as what he wants to pack to take, he says, “Maybe something to trade. So we can remember and they can remember.”

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