Kenneth LeBlanc is a visionary.
“Imagine if you were to sign up for soccer, but you’re not just signing for like a six-week soccer program where you’ve got your coach and you do your stuff,” LeBlanc said. “You’re signing up, but you’re going to get drafted to represent a country.
“You will wear that country uniform as you go through your soccer program. You will learn about that country you are representing. In the end, we’ll follow up with a World Cup.”
Tying sports and education together is what LeBlanc has in mind with the planned launch of Wiregrass United, which incorporates sports, education and empowers communities to work together under the umbrella of the LeBlanc Foundation, which he presides as founder/CEO.
“What we’re going to do with Wiregrass United is not just going to be sporting events, but a lot of education,” LeBlanc said. “That’s the strategy that we have and it’s in line with the state school system. They want the kids to get out and move and they’re looking for community-based organizations to assist with that.”
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LeBlanc, an Enterprise resident, has long been a proponent of physical fitness and was recently awarded the Alabama Leadership Award for physical fitness presented by the Governor’s Commission on Physical Fitness and Sports. He is on a steering committee for Get Moving Alabama, which is an initiative to promote a healthy lifestyle throughout the state through the creation and encouragement of physical activity opportunities for everyone.
“Right now is the time that people are ready to get back out, from all indications,” LeBlanc said. “We still exercise a level of protection and awareness of the COVID, but now we have the opportunity to do it.”
LeBlanc wants his efforts in the Wiregrass to be an example for the entire state to follow.
“I’m looking to put together a particular format and implementation strategy that will then branch to other areas of the state, but it will start in the Wiregrass,” LeBlanc said. “There is a lot of work to be done.
“It’s going to start with a (formal) announcement (of Wiregrass United), bringing together the committees and crawl, walk and run. We have every resource right here in the Wiregrass to do something as big as we want.”
Having worked as a director for the Alabama State Games, which is an Olympic-style sporting event held throughout the state for the past 39 years and will be in the Wiregrass in June for the second straight year; LeBlanc wants something similar for this area to be held at other times of the year.
“We are actually looking at a Veterans Day weekend (in November),” LeBlanc said of the first big event planned as part of Wiregrass United. “It’s going to be a Wiregrass Games.
“This event isn’t bid out. For instance, a city like Daleville … what can you host; what can you do with it? Dothan, what are your strengths? So now let’s make a list.
“We’re going to have this sport, this sport and that sport … a low cost event. It’s about bringing everybody together.”
Pulling together as one in the Wiregrass is something near and dear to LeBlanc’s heart after his family was taken care of in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. At the time, LeBlanc was an active-duty officer in the military stationed at Fort Rucker while most of his family resided in New Orleans.
“My dad retired from Rucker, my brother did, I did, my nephew … we all retired from Fort Rucker,” LeBlanc said of their roots at the base. “My dad knew that if they can get to Fort Rucker (during Katrina), then that will be a safe bet.
“Thirty of my family members, after about four days, made it to Fort Rucker. We had folks who had special needs; my mom had Alzheimer’s (disease) …. Fort Rucker went into action. At the time, Fort Rucker was building a new barracks for the soldiers. We had 14 rooms they set us up in for my family in that barracks. They took care of my family for almost a year.”
Many of the family members would later return to New Orleans, but LeBlanc remained and raised his family. In 2020, the LeBlanc Foundation, a non-profit corporation, was established to show appreciation to Fort Rucker and the Wiregrass.
“So we made the decision many years ago that we were going to give back,” LeBlanc said of forming the foundation. “Through Wiregrass United, we’re going to bring the Wiregrass together.
“I talk a lot to those folks above Montgomery, Birmingham, Huntsville … that this particular portion of the state is often overlooked with the big events. The intent is to look at it as part of the big picture where we support each other at all ages.
“I’m excited. We can get a lot done under this platform across the state. We want to show other states this is what Alabama is doing … bringing our communities back together. From there, we’ll identify and do things.”