April 23, 2024

Solano Volunteers raise funds at 49ers games – The Vacaville Reporter

Ryan Sarna poses with a concessions customer while volunteering for the Coach Sarna League at Levi’s Stadium.

If giving back to the community while catching part of a 49ers game or concert for free sounds good, Vallejo’s Ryan Sarna has the way to do it.

Sarna, who operates the Coach Sarna Football league and Lego league in Vallejo and Benicia, said he takes groups of over 50 volunteers to Levi’s Stadium for game days and concerts to sell concessions. While volunteers get the chance to do a fun job in the stadium atmosphere, the proceeds go to support scholarships for kids who would not be able to participate in the Football and Lego leagues without assistance.

“It’s our mission that we never turn our child away whether they can afford it or not,” Sarna says of the programs.

The program has given out about $100,000 in registration scholarships, he said, and before finding the partnership with Levi’s Stadium he was unsure how to meet that financial needs. While many families do not participate in sports because of financial concerns, the Coach Sarna league aims to avoid those barriers.

Sarna said it’s been great to have so many volunteers willing to participate so far, but they are looking for more for concerts and football season this year. People from all over the county and the Bay Area sell concessions with their group to raise funds, he said.

“We have some people who found out about us who live down in San Jose and who meet us at the stadium,” Sarna said.

Sarna said he hopes to have expanded the number of volunteers before the Luke Combs shows set for May 17 and 18. They will also be working at the Rolling Stones concert in June. At football games, he said, volunteers are usually able to watch a few downs when the lines are slow, but at concerts they are often able to watch more after the concessions close.

“We definitely work hard,” Sarna said, “but it’s a lot of reward to being in the stadium.”

Sarna said the events are a great way to help folks interested in volunteerism give back to their community in an engaging and fulfilling way.

“It’s been great for us and our mission,” he said.

Volunteers have to be over 18 years old because the stadium sells alcohol, Sarna said, and they must wear black pants, meet uniform requirements, and wear a shirt that the Sarna league provides.

“Other than that they just have to have a willing heart and want to come and give back,” he said.

Sarna said the league is also working to revamp their website so they can better share their mission with the community. The hope is that they can be more than just a football league, he said, but also connect families around a shared set of values and holistically helping kids grow into great people.

The Saints flag football team lifts up Rashawn Munmon after his one-handed catch helped solidify the team’s win against the Ravens during the Coach Sarna League flag football championships in 2023 in Vallejo. (Chris Riley/Times-Herald)

The organization hopes to start providing a weekly newsletter to families with leadership advice, family bonding materials and nutritional help, complete with healthy recipes. Registration for the Lego league is open now through February when it starts, and registration for the football league, which starts in April and runs through June, is open now as well.

“It’s not just about football, if it’s Lego it’s not just about Lego building,” he said. “It’s about you as a whole.”

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