Fundraiser at Carver helps raise awareness for at-risk kids


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Alumni from several Iowa sports showed their support on Sunday in the form of a fundraising celebrity basketball game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The Iowa City All-Star Classic sought to continue the work of We Are the World, a Coralville-based nonprofit that works with at-risk youth.

“I’m always trying to find a way to help bring in money to the organization,” We Are the World executive director Cleo McConnell said. “The original thought was a simple basketball game at a local high school. But when it expanded to Carver, the thought became what do we have to do to fill Carver.”

McDonnell and her work with We Our the World comprises of helping at-risk kids in eastern Iowa. The organization focuses on the kids that suffer from home, environmental, and generational issues that cause them to be at-risk for an uncertain future.

Even though the fundraiser didn’t produce the crowd it had intended in its initial year, people still attended and supported the nonprofit.

McConnell was able to attract numerous Iowa alumni across numerous sports. Former men’s and women’s basketball players, wrestlers, and football players all played in the game and sought to help McConnell and her goal of giving back to the kids.

Former Iowa basketball players such as Greg Stokes (1981-1985), Duez Henderson (1998-2002), and Jason Price (1998-2000) all competed and found comfort in Carver playing a basketball game for charity.

“Anytime you can come back and get together with former Hawkeyes and give back to the community, it’s super important,” former Hawkeye football player Tim Dwight said. “It’s neat even for me to hang out with some [basketball] players who played in the 1980s.”

Dwight played the game while wearing vintage Chuck Taylors and mid-calf Hawkeye color argyle socks.

“To be a part of this, in its first year, is a great honor,” Henderson said. “It always fun to come out and not be serious, and I think the kids enjoy it. Carver-Hawkeye is a big-time arena, and for people to see it up close is great for the community.”

Henderson was a part of the fun on the court. After the game’s halftime, he and Price drew up a couple of alley-oop dunks to get the crowd going.

“This what the Hawkeye State is all about,” Price said. “Being able to come back and [play a game] for the fans. To give them something for coming out is always fun.”

After the game, the players became available for autographs, pictures, and conversation with lifelong Hawkeye fans.

Even though the number of fans in attendance wasn’t as big as she had hoped, McDonnell still felt the kids that came out were able to leave Carver with a positive experience and knowledge of how to maintain a positive outlook on life.

“[The event] gave more awareness to We Are the World,” McDonnell said. “We may not have gotten the crowd but we got attention and awareness. And now we have these athletes on our side that are grateful for being a part of this event.”

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