Starting Something New (Pt. 2/2)

By Alan Flanigan

“When you have the ability to make a positive impact, you have the responsibility to do so.”

One of my favorite all-time sports moments was Kevin Durant’s 2014 MVP speech, when he provided perhaps the best acceptance speech line of all-time. In addressing his mother, who was present in the crowd, choking back tears he said, “you’re the real MVP.”

A moment so real and genuine, that it hits home for anyone who has achieved success at any level. The recognition that countless instances of sacrifice, faith, and hardship had all lead up to that point, gave us something that transcended sports.

That feeling resonates with us. As an organization comprised exclusively of current and former collegiate student-athletes, both as individuals, and as a collective, we are here because of those around us. Be it friends, family, fans, coaches, teammates, administrators, trainers, and a long list of others, we take the field, court, or arena and stand before you as a product of their support.

My college coach used to tell us all the time, “You will never have the opportunity to pay all of those people back, only to pay it forward.” Albeit cliché, it’s true.

I’ll never be able to thank enough...

...my father for teaching me how to grit through any challenge.

...my mother for never coddling me.

...my high school coach for keeping me focused through ups and downs.

...my AAU coaches for showcasing me around the country.

...my college coach for taking a chance on me.

But what if I didn’t have these people in my life?

Unfortunately, far too often we meet kids that do not have this type of support system around them and are looking for guidance. Instead of a mother or father at home, it may be a volunteer or mentor, it may be Athletes CARE.

Through the Hoops High Road Initiative, we are working to build these relationships with underserved youth so that we can create opportunities that boost communities. But like any good support system, we are far from alone in our mission.

Therefore, in acknowledgement and appreciation of shared values and commitment, we will recognize three incredible Philadelphia community leaders at the Inaugural Athletes CARE Gala. Please join us on September 30th, as we give out the following awards:

Philanthropy Engagement Award — to an individual who has shown an overwhelming commitment to increasing engagement in philanthropic endeavors. This award recipient was bold enough to pursue a big dream, launch a new organization, and spread a sense social optimism that increases the number of people committed to improving the great city of Philadelphia.

Individual Impact Award — to an individual who provides aid-based relief that directly impacts individuals at a grassroots level. This award recipient provides immediate support to individuals who are homeless, hungry, and are desperate for basic needs—food, clean water, shelter, hygiene products—this individual dedicates his or her efforts on the front line of poverty, where the work is difficult, often dangerous, and receives little recognition.

Commitment to the Game Award — to an individual who has shown a lifetime of commitment to continuing Philadelphia’s proud basketball tradition. This award recipient uses basketball to instill the values that create tomorrow’s leaders, and represent the characteristics of this great city: pride, passion, grit, and an undying commitment to excellence.

Over the next few weeks we will be announcing each of our award winners, and providing a little trivia about each of them along the way, so be sure follow along on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

We certainly hope that you will join us on September 30th for a night that will truly make a difference. Because it’s your support that creates an opportunity.

We are Athletes Creating Abundant Relief Effort. We are Athlete CARE.