Boston, MA -
Recently, Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference
partnered with the charitable organization Good Sports, and world renowned athletic apparel giant Nike, to donate 160 pairs of brand new basketball sneakers to the Revere Police Activities League (PAL) Basketball League.
A portion of Ference's Nike endorsement product allotment paid for the sneakers.
"It doesn't matter if it is in Africa or America," said Ference who visited Africa last summer with an eye toward promoting athletics on that continent. "Everyone needs sports.
"It gives kids something to do, whether it is after school or with their free time -- and is an alternative to hanging out and getting into trouble.
"It's such a vital thing and you learn so much through sports it's unbelievable," he said.
Good Sports, a Boston-based non-profit organization, aims to increase youth participation in sports by donating equipment to community organizations serving disadvantaged youth.
"Good Sports was really excited to work with Andrew," said Christy Keswick, Chief Operating Officer of Good Sports. "We're truly blessed and the kids are truly blessed.
"This is very unique…for an organization to ask 'What sizes do you need for the kids, because we want to donate brand new shoes to the whole program' is really unique.
"It's a testament to what Andrew has negotiated with Nike," she said.
Good Sports chose the Revere PAL Basketball League as the grant recipient because a number of the program’s participants play in worn-out sneakers or work shoes, putting them at risk for injury. In addition, there are a number of young people who choose not to play at all because they do not have the proper footwear.
So, last Friday, March 28th, Ference visited the Irene O’Connell Center in Revere to make the donation and help the kids playing.
"Sports keeps you out of trouble and gives you a future," said Ference to the crowd of enthusiastic young athletes. "This is an awesome [program] and I am glad to see so many guys involved.
"Everyone wants to play sports, play with their buddies and have a good time.
"So, this is a gift for you guys, so everyone has some good shoes to wear," he said.
The response, as you might imagine, was something to behold as the children lined up to meet Ference and thank him for the sneakers before they returned to their basketball games. There were lots of pictures and handshakes and autographs.
But it was obvious that they didn't need to thank Andrew -- their smiles were clearly enough.
"It means a lot to me to see kids playing and having a chance to play," said the Bruins defenseman. "It breaks my heart to know that a kid may not be able to play because he doesn't have running shoes.
"I was just glad that Good Sports had a program put together to [help] -- it was a good fit."
---By the way: Ference, who is a firm believer in protecting the environment, also received a donation of two vehicles from Zipcar to assist in the delivery, cutting down on the excessive gas emissions that would have resulted from using a truck. Thank you to Anna Kinne and Kevin Cooney, who drove Andrew, the BostonBruins.com crew and the shoes to the O'Connell Center.