Athletes C.A.R.E. hosts first annual gala: Organization runs fundraiser for Hoops High Road

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Athletes C.A.R.E. gala at Temple’s Mitten Hall (Photo Courtesy of Alec Golini ’14)

AJ Traub

Created by Lafayette’s own student-athletes, the Athletes C.A.R.E. group hosted its first ever gala fundraiser this fall. The organization estimates that they raised $10,000 from over 100 donors for Hoops High Road. A program within Athletes C.A.R.E., Hoops High Road aims to build and refurbish basketball courts in Philadelphia and provide services to local athletes, according to the group’s website.

“Athletes C.A.R.E. is a non-profit organization started by Lafayette students,” said senior point guard for the Leopards Eric Stafford, the campus head of Hoops High Road. “We like to keep the reputation that we are run by Lafayette student-athletes. Hoops High Road is all Lafayette as well, and it’s a program run by Athletes C.A.R.E.”

The gala, held on September 30th, required a lot of preparation and communication on the parts of the student-athletes.

“We had to make connections with prominent figures in the Philadelphia community,” Stafford said. “We were able to have conversations over the phone and meetings with the mayor of Philadelphia Jim Kenney. He’s been a big help for us because he’s been able to point us in the right directions. They are able to help us with the construction of basketball courts and finding locations for basketball courts. It’s important to have someone in the Philadelphia government, because when you build things, you have to get permits for construction and deal with construction unions. He helps us get over that barrier. Other basketball coaches, like [Temple basketball coach] Fran Dunphy spoke at the gala. We gave him an award for community service.”

Stafford said the gala went well, highlighting the speakers’ focus on community service.

“We had important people come and support us,” Stafford said. “The program went well. We had a solid agenda and our speakers were very good. In general, the speakers pointed towards the importance of giving back to the community. Giving back to those who are less fortunate, being that we are people who are around sports for a living, a lot of us are very fortunate and are in positions where we are able to give back to our communities.”

Next for Athletes C.A.R.E. is spreading the word and expanding their following, Stafford continued.

“We are still early in the stages of getting this done,” Stafford said. “We haven’t built up credibility or reputation yet, so because of that it’s a bit of a challenge to get donations, raise a lot of money and get our cause out there. The gala is the first step in the right direction, so we hope it helped build some awareness for what we’re trying to do and we hope our base of support grows in the future.”

While the gala has passed, Athletes C.A.R.E. is planning more for the future.

“In terms of the gala, it should be an annual thing,” Stafford said. “That doesn’t mean we’re not going to be doing any for over the next year for the program. We should have a meeting coming up where we talk about the next steps.”

For Stafford, the gala is an encouraging start on the way to achieving the goals set by Hoops High Road.

“Once we get one of our courts built, then that’s something we can point to and say ‘this is what we did,’” Stafford said. “I’m excited about where this can go, especially now that we’ve had a solid first annual gala.”