Over the years I have done a few programs with the NY Knicks. I have brought children from the South Bronx to a NY Liberty game in Westchester. I have worked with a TV show (Between The Lions) to have NBA Players come on the show and also do a reading program with RIF.(Reading is Fundamental) to encourage children to read. Yet, it wasn’t until last Tuesday that I watched one of my students experience a program; “Tickets Together” that not only supports the sport and the family unit but also brings attention and opportunity to a serious issue within our community. That being, quality time we spend with our fathers.
You can ask anyone and everyone agrees; it takes a village nowadays to raise our children. In addition, the term “Social Responsibility” has become the new standard and a call for action with top rank businesses. However it’s not often that you see a corporation do both. Yet, such is the case with the New York Knicks and the Alan Houston Legacy Foundation and his new innovative clothing line FISLL.
Just to give you some context the FISLL project (TFP)consists of several youth programs, workshops and live events. TFP combines the model of leadership teaching and restorative behavior science to cultivate and enhance healthy relationships between youth and adults, and leadership teams. Houston explains how FISLL is more than a clothing brand. It represents five fundamental keys for winning in life — Faith, Integrity, Sacrifice, Leadership and Legacy. “We take those five fundamentals of life to make the world and community better.”
“Ticket’s Together” is a beautiful collage of participants and partners who live and want to share their Knick’s basketball lifestyle. The program gives fathers an opportunity to bond with their children experiencing a night of VIP treatment through events namely; Knick’s basketball games at Madison Square Garden. The medley of various partners and participants to make the magic happen include; Knick’s Season ticket holders (who donate their tickets), the NY Knicks Corporate office (who grants permission for the recipients to have almost full reign of Madison Square Garden) the Allan Houston Legacy Foundation FISLL (who credits his legacy to the importance of family support) and an amazing host who is a dedicated representative for the NY Knicks, Mr. Thabiti Boone among others to many to mention in this one article.
Last week, the Knicks dedicated their home game game to their fans and wanted to show their appreciation. The “Ticket’s Together” team took that initiative one step further and honored the passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna by selecting a father/daughter team who bonds through basketball. The names were taken for consideration and the Clarke Family won! Allura and her dad Sabour won the tickets! Just that quick their night to remember became memorable just with the news that they were going. Yet, they had no idea what was in store for them.
Their night started with them receiving a NY Knicks gift book bag with goodies such as; NY Knicks NY Forever t-shirt, an Allan Houston Legacy Foundation FISLL hat, wristbands and a couple more goodies too many to mention. They learned quickly how their night of bonding would be completely different than any other they have shared when Allura was able to speak with Allan himself. A moment Allura and her dad never expected. That set the tone for the night! After the gifts and call their next stop was the Delta Sky 360 VIP Lounge. There the two got a chance to feast on anything and everything from steak, lobster and sushi to hot dogs and hamburgers and of course every child’s favorite; the candy station. In the lounge you saw Allura’s father giving her tips on the veteran players she didn’t know but was in the same room with them. They even got a chance to take a picture with John Wallace and Latrell Sprewell. After the pre-game feast they were lead to their seats. It was so close to the floor they could shout the players name and they would be heard. A drastic difference from the balcony seats. All week Allura kept asking if she will be able to get close to the players. Not knowing what to expect I told her to be patient and see what happens. The next day after the game Allura spoke about her highlight of the night was being able to give some of the players a high five as they came on the court to warm up for the game. To close the night, after the game they went on the court and took a picture to capture their moment and night of amazing festivities. “Dad and I will never forget this night!” exclaimed Allura. The night ended with her heading home with a smile from ear to ear, thanking everyone for an amazing night and revisiting the night all over with her father conversing on which part of the night was the best!
I often tell my students that hard work pays. Dedication to something will take you somewhere if you allow your work to speak for you. Well Allura’s dedication to the game of basketball, playing with boys at the age of seven definitely paid off. Her father who was also her coach then and still attends her games today agreed that “Ticket’s Together” not only brought them together to enjoy a night they will never forget but it also made the Clarke family understand the importance of paying forward. If it were not for the village helping raise our children none of this would be possible.
There is a saying; “If they knew better they would do better.” It’s my humble opinion that events and programs such as “Ticket’s Together” let others understand the importance of family and bonding while also understanding and learning by example that there are others who care and wish the best for you. Their dedication and commitment to being the change made and makes the difference. Imagine if we all did the same. To those that have given, Thank you! For those who want to pay forward by giving back the Knicks welcome you to be the difference and make one at the same time.
It does take a village and I am so glad that my HCC (Harlem Commonwealth Council) PS 129 Afterschool student had the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Thank you for all the hard work you do to make this happen for our youth. It’s actions like these that separates the sincere from the social. Actions do speak louder than words. To the NY Knicks, Allan Houston and Thabiti Boone and all the people (too many to mention in this article) that make up the village and villagers who are the difference; we want you to know that your actions are seen as well as heard loud and clear. Continued success and may the village of Knick’s and their season ticket holders continue to support your efforts. KUDOS!