From the squeak of the first sneaker to the last award given during our award ceremony, when many of our campers accepted their Olympic style medals with arms raised in the air in glory, the Bounce Out the Stigma Summer Basketball Camp at Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, NC was a joy for all those who took part. From volunteers to administrators, everyone did a great job. The campers were all awesome and they learned and grew so much! I can not thank the people in North Carolina enough from Pat Gibson and Sue Case of the Epilepsy Foundation, David Laxton of the Autism Society of North Carolina and even the Special Olympics who all served a great part in supplying volunteers and helping out. Pat and Sue really assisted this project big-time. They were even at camp every day and played integral roles volunteering, supplied nurses, and even made great home-cooked lunches. We also had great support from local businesses like Whole Foods (who never lets us down each year) donating snacks and water for the campers. Chick-Fil-A donated lunch for nearly 40 volunteers on Friday, and after eating my first chicken sandwich from their establishment I must now say, “Eat more chicken!”
I cannot thank Greg Brittenham, our program director, and his family for all their help and support as well. This will definitely not be our last venture together. We all got to see why Greg is the “top dawg” in the basketball world as a coach when it comes to fitness and conditioning. He is awesome and a great friend.
Wake Forest University was a wonderful host as well. From first inviting me mid-year to do a halftime show at the DUKE game on Senior Night to promote the camp, which was awesome. Then they gave the program the best gyms on campus to run the camp (Each day, we got to work on the on the actual practice court of the Demon Deacons with the murals of Tim Duncan, Chris Paul and Josh Howard on the walls and all the players retired numbers above- how awesome is that!) And lastly, we got WF athletes to work with us at camp, as well as the University’s Sports Media Department to get outreach efforts for media. That led to some cool things including the nice story most of you have seen via linkage on FOX 8 TV [Click picture to view video]. Sweet!
Most importantly, though, the week was great because it was all about the kids. We had two action packed segments each day. One was for younger children. The other was for the older children. Ages were from 8-20. They all learned allot and we made sure they had an action packed schedule, filled with lots of fun. The essence of Bounce Out the Stigma Programs is to look past perceived limitations and always strive to do your best and reach your goals both on and off the court. It was so exciting to see the joy of our campers and their reactions to tasks that seemed insurmountable in the beginning of the week to those that by the end of the week they were doing with ease. Building “self empowerment” that is what our program is all about. One of my favorite moments from camp was getting a compliment from a young girl named Emily, who was a fast learner at camp and a pretty good dribbler and player. She came up to me one day, tapped me on the side and said, “When I grow up I want to be just like you.” I thought for a second, and said to myself, “wow I guess we are truly making an impact.” Then later that day in our afternoon session, I saw a young boy hug Greg. By the end of the week we all got hugs and plenty of compliments each day from parents. “This is really special,” I thought to myself, “you can not put a price on this, everything I have dreamed up for this program is continuing to come to fruition. We are really making a difference.”