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August 16, 2008The charitable donations at Ben Gordon's Bowling Bash this Friday were remarkable.
The voice of the community and friends of Mount Vernon sports were heard throughout the room and the stars came out in bulk.
The sentiment of the crowd was similar, no matter who expressed it. There were also talks about on going fundraisers to save Mount Vernon's sports program which needs to raise over $900K.
The star-studded event was created to raise money for Gordon's non-profit foundation, the Ben Gordon New Life Foundation, which in turn, will donate at least 50% of the event's net proceeds to Mount Vernon Mayor Clinton I. Young's 'Save Our Sports' program.
In attendance for the event was host and NBA star Ben Gordon (Mt. Vernon alumni and Chicago Bulls), Elton Brand (native of Peekskill, NY and a member of the Philadelphia 76ers), Emeka Okafor (Charlotte Bob Cats), Charlie Villanueva (Milwaukee Bucks), Ashley Battle (New York Liberty) and UConn head coach Jim Calhoun. Former Mt. Vernon Knight, Jonathan Mitchell was also in attendance
From the entertainment field, rapper turned actor, Dwight "Heavy D" Myers, record mogul, Irv Gotti, and radio personalities Ed Lover and Curt Flirt of Power105 in New York came and showed their support.
The guests in attendance had strong feelings about the S.O.S. crisis and expressed their concerns.
Gordon, who is in the midst of sign-and-trade negotiations, expressed an optimistic tone regarding the future of Mt. Vernon sports saying, "I am sure Mt. Vernon will raise the necessary funds. I cannot imagine this community not having a sports program."
Brand added, "I came to the event to support Ben Gordon and his cause. I grew up in Westchester and I really wanted to take part in this important event. Brand expressed his feelings about the sports crisis at Mount Vernon High School saying, "I know what high school sports did for me. It gave me something to look forward to everyday. Sports gave me a feeling of camaraderie. Sports kept me off the streets and gave me something to do when I was a kid. So when I heard about Ben's event I wanted to come out and let people know how important this cause is from a million dollar athlete's perspective but also from a kid that wanted to do more than what was out on the streets."
Okafor, spoke about the crisis and gave his concerns. "I came out to support Ben today because it is such an important event. I cannot imagine a school without sports program. Where I come from high school sports are big. For a school not to have high school sports it must be heartbreaking for the kids."
Mount Vernon Knights head coach Bob Cimmino remarked at the obstacles and efforts saying, "The weather was terrible, with tornado like conditions. It took the Knights an hour to get here from Mount Vernon High school. But over all it looks like it is a successful turnout and hopefully a lot of these people brought a lot of money with them."
When asked do his players really understand the seriousness of the matter, Cimmino replied, "They are very smart and know that it is a continuing battle and that we will be raising money for quite sometime."
Cimmino was also asked, does he think the event and the crisis will inspire the team of Mount Vernon to come out and play harder this year. "Definitely. Many people have spoken to the players about it. We actually, as a team, have been coming together a lot sooner than we usually do. We have been together working on the crisis that faces us for two months. They are already a team."
Coach Calhoun came to support Ben Gordon, his former UConn alumni and expressed his thoughts. "I came to Ben's event today to give my positive support for his foundation and the S.O.S. crisis. This event is very special to me to."
Calhoun also noted that the Mt. Vernon team has some really promising players. UConn, over the summer, has expressed interest in Sherrod Wright who is Mt. Vernon's star shooting guard.
The event was a success and Ben Gordon weekend continues with, Ben's Family day Saturday August 16th at Hartley Park, Mount Vernon 9am-8pm, an All-Star- Basketball game will be held at 5pm. BG's Weekend Comedy Show at Location (TBD).
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