Rick Sickles is not who most people envision when they think of those who are assisted by Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida. In 1960, his father was one of the more influential and successful men in Central Florida as the program manager of what is now WKMG. His father was a pioneer in the early days of television in Orlando, producing a program for children called “Adventures with Uncle Walt.” He was also the chairman of the board for what was then called Orlando Boys Club.
“My brother and I were not the typical boys at the Club; most came from families that didn’t have the means,” Sickles says. “It didn’t matter to us. But, it started us on a lifelong respect of people from all walks of life.”
Much like his father, Sickles took on leadership roles at the Boys Club. He refereed the basketball games. He coached the football team. One of his fondest memories was dressing up in a suit and tie to coach a game at what is now the Citrus Bowl. It was a triple header, with his contest up first, followed by a junior high game and finishing with the big high school rivalry at the time, Boone vs. Edgewater.
“It gave me the opportunity to learn to lead,” says Sickles, who retired from AT&T four years ago after a long career in the technology industry.
Today, Sickles leads his Kiwanis Club to raise money for the yearly Youth of the Year competitions. He was on the coaching team that worked with the 2014 National Youth of the Year, Maryah Sullivan.
“Fifty years later and I’m still involved because I can’t think of a more worthy organization,” he says.