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Gee-Gees explore their altruistic side

Months before the first tip-off of the 2011–12 season, the Gee-Gees men’s basketball team has already begun to make their mark in the community. The team braved the summer heat and volunteered their time to the Foundation to Fight Obesity in Children’s Third Annual Golf Tournament on June 20. While most of us were basking indoors with our air conditioners blasting, the Garnet and Grey were selling raffle tickets, helping with valet parking, and acting as caddies for the cause. Proving they’re powerhouses on and off the court, the players raised over $1,000 for the charity initiative, contributing to the $30,000 the tournament raised.

“The basketball team was incredible. From the moment [Timothy Chung, marketing director for the men’s basketball team] and coach James Derouin expressed interest in the foundation, they’ve worked with my company helping to bring the tournament to life—offering suggestions and bringing supporters and talent to the table,” explained Laura Glasper, event manager for the golf tournament, in an email to the *Fulcrum*.

The Foundation to Fight Obesity in Children was established in 2008 by Tony Greco, Canada’s leading fitness specialist, whose concern for his children’s future inspired him to educate others about the importance of nutrition and exercise. The organization provides funding for economically disadvantaged children in order to help them gain access to the tools necessary in the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle. Derouin chose the foundation as the team’s main project due to its focus on healthy and active living.

“The cause is something that really follows through with our mandate here at the University of Ottawa [of] promoting active living on campus and within the community,” said Derouin. “I just felt it was a perfect fit.”

The Gees coach hopes his players gained a sense of pride while volunteering their time to an event such as this one.

“I hoped that the team would see how easy it is to volunteer [their] time, and not only that but it can be a fun experience as well,” he explained.

“The players had a great day and the event was a huge success. A win-win situation for everyone involved. Giving back to the community is something we want to preach here with our program and this is just the beginning.”

Second-year guard Johnny Berhanemeskel reaffirmed Derouin’s hope that the team gained a valuable experience over the weekend.

“It was definitely a great feeling to give back and to do so with your team. We all enjoyed it a lot and were enthusiastic throughout the whole day,” he said.

“Whether it was doing the valet parking or serving cold drinks, everyone was embracing the experience. [We were able to meet] all sorts of people—be [it] gym owners or NHL players. [It was] such a good cause it made everyone feel that much better.”

Derouin says the men’s basketball team will continue to work closely with Greco and the foundation throughout the year. Glasper adds that she is eager to continue work with the team.

“The team graciously made a huge impact on the day, and we look forward to working with them in the future.”