We have the pleasure of hosting former NBA players Kenny Battle and Jeff Sanders from yesterday afternoon until tomorrow. Thanks to a wonderful partnership with alumnus Arnie Fielkow (Nivo 1972) who heads the National Basketball Retired Players Association, our campers had an amazing opportunity to hear from and spend time with Kenny and Jeff off and on the courts. Kenny was a basketball star at the University of Illinois and was a first round choice of the Detroit Pistons. During his NBA career, Kenny played for Phoenix, Denver, Bodton and Golden State. Jeff was a first round pick of the Chicago Bulls and played for the Bulls, Atlanta and Charlotte.
Earlier today our campers got to play knockout and other basketball games and drills with Kenny and Jeff. After lunch today, Shoafim heard from both players about their own charity work. The Shoafim Tzedakah Project is off to a great start, and our campers heard from Kenny and Jeff about the meaningful work they’ve done both before and during retirement. Kenny explained how good it can feel in your heart to help others, that’s the reason he and Jeff work so hard with so many different communities—not because of any publicity or media coverage. At the end of the day though, they explained, they’re here at camp to spend time and hang out with our campers; this isn’t charity for them.
When Kenny and Jeff opened up the floor to questions, Shoafim camper Ethan L. asked what they thought of a basketball tournament to raise money for their Tzedakah Project. Both players weighed in with their own ideas: make sure you have rules and regulations, market the event well, make sure there’s a prize and an entrance fee, think about what ages the event will serve, and look at the big picture—the more people you have, the more money you’ll raise. Kenny finished by assuring Ethan, “That’s a great plan, stick with it!”
Shoafim counselor David Dodelson asked how their experiences in basketball influenced their outlook on charity. Jeff explained that when you get to a certain place professionally, you’re motivated to do charity work in the community you play for, which really is all about giving back. With everything people have done to help get you to a successful professional level, Kenny added, it’s important to give back and do the same for someone else.
In regards to starting your own charity project, something our Shoafim campers are thinking about as they come up with new ways to raise money at camp, Jeff said: “Just like sports, you have to have good team mates.” Our Shoafim campers will definitely take this advice with them as they look to their meaningful and exciting summer ahead!