- Act locally but think globally was certainly the theme at the 2010 Hopes 4 Hope Hamptons Summer Benefit as supporters gathered at the home of Susan Burden
and Bill Goldman
to raise funds in support of programs for disadvantaged children in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Founded by Mark Crandall
in 1995, Hoops 4 Hope gives hope to over 10,000 children by providing athletic programs coupled with life skills education that empowers these children with the chance to beat the odds in communities plagued by HIV/AIDS, desperate poverty and senseless violence. The athletic programs our children take for granted would not exist for most of these children if were not for the work of Hoops 4 Hope.
Originally exclusively a basketball program for both boys and girls, Hopes 4 Hope four years ago created a girls soccer program called Soccer 4 Hope. Much more than just sports, the kids are provided with health care, counseling and are taught life skills that prepare them to face the challenges that confront them in a part of the world very different from our own.
Christian Gardner of Astor & Black Bespoke Custom Clothiers, an event sponsor, with NBA star Bobby Simmons of the New Jersey Nets.
Crandall, an Amaganstt native, traveled to Zimbabwe on an East Hampton High School Rotary exchange program in 1984 and as he said, "Once you have Africa in your blood it is hard to leave." After college he restarted East Hampton Sports Camp, which is now in its 19th summer. In 1994 he returned to Zimbabwe to start a summer camp there, "I had a few bags of balls and some uniforms, but I quickly realized how important it was to get the sports to kids year-round. Then after that we started meshing the sports with the life skills. We incorporate all the sports with what we call our 'Skills for Life' curriculum that deals with HIV prevention, to reach the kids before they get themselves in trouble. We do a lot of conflict resolution, gender equality and girls' empowerment."
Understandably, the organization is supported by many professional sports organizations, particularly the NBA
, along with the pros that, as they say, play for pay. This year's benefit was no different as Bobby Simmons
of the New Jersey Nets noted, "I am here today to give back to others that are less fortunate, I think that is key in all our lives. Sports can be great conduit for social change." Along with Simmons, NBA rookie Ed Davis
of the Toronto Raptors was on hand and tried his hand at playing some video basketball games with a number of the kids in attendance at the event.
WBC Welterweight Champion Andre Berto shows some moves in support of Hoops 4 Hope.
Serving as the event's honorary host was NBA and ESPN
commentator Mike Breen
, "A number of years ago I was introduced to Mark Crandall and started helping them out with their basketball clinic and once you meet Mark you are pretty much hooked. When you think of what he started just a short time ago and see where Hoops 4 Hope is now, it is pretty amazing." Breen went on to say, "Kids just need confidence, they need hope. These programs give that to them."
Basketball was not the only sport represented by the pros as WBC Welterweight Champion Andre "The Beast" Berto
also attended this year's Hoops 4 Hope benefit. Haitian-American, Berto is acutely aware of children in need having spent time in Haiti after last year's devastating earthquake, "I was planning to fight Shane Mosley
in January and the devastation happened about two weeks before the fight, so I cancelled the flight and shot over to Haiti. I stayed there for about a week and a half to try to help get things together and make sure the rest of our family was in tact."
Along with great food, wine and cocktails by Canard Inc., Raymond Wines and Robert's Restaurant and Ketel One Vodka
, respectively, guests where treated to music by Dan Bailey & Living Rhythm
and the Levy Mwanza Band
. There were silent auction tables full of sports related items and a live auction that featured five incredible vacation trips.
NBA rookie Ed Davis of the Toronto Raptors playing some outdoor basketball video with Susan Burden's grandson as the hostess looks on.
This year's benefit committee included founder Crandall, hosts Burden and Goldman, along with Molly Blair
and Christian Gardner
, Joy Marcus
, and Sue
and Steve Felsher
. Kudos to all for a benefit well done!
Underground basketball legend, DJ and author Bobbito Garcia
received the Ubuntu Award at this year's benefit.
According to the Hoops 4 Hope website, "Ubuntu expresses an ancient South African concept of unity, that every human is part of a greater whole; that I am who I am through you, and you are who you are through me. It captures in one word the combined love of all humanity."
Ubunti was certainly the sentiment expressed by all who supported this year's Hoops 4 Hope benefit and their generosity will indeed touch children who so need the help, the hope and the hoops.
For more information go to www.hoopsafrica.org
Dan Bailey & Living Rhythm joined with the Levy Mwanza Band to provide the evening's music.
Frequently mistaken for the "Most Interesting Man in the World" from the Dos Equis commercials and the iconic gray-bearded Sean Connery, DMH is the Senior Contributing Editor at Hamptons.com. www.hamptons.com