A group of Jamaicans living in the United States of America donated more than 150 pairs of sneakers to aid the development of young basketball players in Jamaica.
The kind gesture was largely driven in part by Barrington Bonitto, Gary Thomas and Michael Williams with the bulk of the footwear going to the Old Harbour Basketball Academy (recently renamed the Kevon Godfrey Basketball Academy) and Jamaica College.
It was borne out of a discussion among great friends Bonitto and Thomas, who took the initiative to reach out.
“I coordinated it with my good friend Gary Thomas,” Bonitto recalled in an interview with Old Harbour News via Facebook. “His daughters came to my summer basketball camp in Long Island.
“There was a young man from Old Harbour High school that was attending. Gary's wife is Jamaican, we started talking about Ricardo (Edwards) and Mike (Michael) Williams and the great job they do with the kids out in Jamaica.
“Then I mentioned that some of the kids didn’t have sneakers to play in. Gary was touched and took it upon himself to reach out to some of his friends that coach and run basketball programmes.
“The response was overwhelming. In just two weeks we collected approximately 150 pairs of new and slightly worn sneakers.
“Presently we're in round two of the sneakers drive, and expect to deliver another 200 pairs to help other kids get sneakers on their feet.”
Ricardo Edwards, co-founder of the Old Harbour Basketball Academy is grateful.
“The students of the Kevon Godfrey Basketball Academy were elated upon receiving the sneakers from some wonderful persons living in the USA who I refer to as friends of the academy. I am happy to see the joy and hope it brings,” said Edwards, who is also coach of the Old Harbour High basketball team. “Some may say how one pair of sneakers can do that, but it opens the door for them to see the possibilities that are before them that that pair of sneakers might be the game changer in their lives.”
He added: “I am grateful to those who made it possible that may help one life saved, which may save a family, a community and even a country.”
The men are now hoping their benevolence will gain additional support to enable them to help more children, who through the sport can achieve their dreams.
“My imagination has no limits brother,” said Bonitto in response to the positive impact their charitable deed is likely to create back home.
“We intend to take it to wherever it leads us. There are so many kids that love the sport, and if they have resources, something as simple as sneakers, basketballs, facilities, etc, the possibilities are endless.”
Plans are also in the pipeline to stage in December an inaugural invitational basketball tournament to honour the memory of Kevon Godfrey, who died from cancer in August.
Godfrey, past student of Old Harbour High, earned a US basketball scholarship last year, before his untimely death.