This year’s Unity Celebrity basketball game is all about respect for the past and hope for the future, says Harold “Lefty” Williams, youth pastor at Jericho Road Church.
The game this Friday, Oct. 23 will feature the Harlem Dreams competing against a team of Port Alberni celebrities, firefighters, RCMP and politicians, coached by Mayor Mike Ruttan.
The event will also honour the 1965 Alberni Athletics team that won a Canadian national basketball championship.
“We want to honour them and let everyone know dreams are still happening in Port Alberni,” Williams said.
Players from that 1965 team, like Denny Grisdale and Tommy Watts will be on hand for a ceremony prior to opening tipoff.
The Harlem Dreams “are celebrities in their own right,” says Williams, who will be wearing one of the Dreams’ blue shirts when he takes to the floor on Friday.
“They’re all professional athletes. A lot of them have been in the show world for awhile, but there are a couple of new people.”
One of those new Harlem Dreams players is “Takeoff”, who dunks from the free-throw line.
He will compete for attention from crowd faves like Lynks and Roadrunner, though.
“It’s no different from the Globetrotter style of game. What makes it better is the support from the community has gone up,” Williams said.
Service groups like Rotary and the Port Alberni Toy Run support the event, as does Jericho Road Church and corporate entities such as the See Group of Companies.
The unity game is part of Williams’ Dare2Dream Foundation, which enriches children’s lives through methods like basketball camp. It raises funds that are distributed equally between the ADSS Breakfast Program, EJ Dunn Backpack Program, Community School Program and Read and Feed Program.
“Our focus is making things possible for youth initiatives and youth organizations.”
It is also Williams’ way of giving back to the community that has treated him so well for three years, he said. “I have a heart for this community. I feel like I’m actually from Port Alberni. A lot of the needs of the community are familiar needs in my own community, where I’m from.”
Tipoff is 7 p.m. at the Alberni Athletic Hall. Tickets are $15 at the door (three and under admitted for free) and are also available at Echo Centre. For family rates, please call the church at 250-723-2328.