By Malinda Murray
January 26, 2008
His upbringing gave him a unique perspective on the challenges many kids in our communities are faced with. He understands the difficulties they encounter as they strive to achieve their dreams.
Now having achieved his dream of making it in the NBA, Wallace, in his seventh year in the league, wants to give something back to help these kids succeed.
On Saturday, January 26, prior to the Bobcats game against the 76ers, Wallace announced the establishment of The Gerald Wallace Foundation at The Giving Back Fund.
With the motto ‘We’re taking a timeout to revitalize our community one block at a time,’ the Gerald Wallace Foundation seeks to provide life-changing opportunities for underserved children and their families, placing special emphasis on recreational activities in Wallace’s hometown of Childersburg and Charlotte, North Carolina.
“I just wanted to give back to kids, to give them the opportunity to grow up and reach for their dreams,” said Wallace as he announced the establishment of his foundation. “I wanted to let them know that there is somebody out there who is pushing them to reach for their goals.”
“This is a great opportunity for me to give something back to my home and a Charlotte community that has openly embraced me since my arrival four years ago,” he remarked. “I feel like this foundation will allow me to become an influential figure in shaping the lives of children and people in need in these cities.”
The Gerald Wallace Foundation is currently working on several projects designed to have a positive impact in the lives of children.
In Charlotte, one of the foundation’s first projects will be to work with the Urban Restoration Center to help renovate a local park. Wallace hopes the renovations to the park, located off of Remount Road, will be a project the community can rally behind, with the end result being a place where families can go to play and spend time together.
“This is like a dream come true,” said Colin Pinkney, executive director of the Urban Restoration Center, as he talked about Wallace’s involvement. “I know it will heighten the awareness around the city of the great need we have to build the next generation of leaders from some of our worst communities. We believe that this is the extra motivation the kids will need to know that the world’s not against them and people care about them. Gerald Wallace can identify with their own struggles and it will give these kids hope that one day their life dreams can come true.”
As part of the renovation project, the foundation will install a new basketball court as well as benches, trash cans, picnic tables and shelters. They will also look to increase safety at the park by installing lighting.
In addition to the park renovation, The Gerald Wallace Foundation is currently involved in a ticket distribution program that provides Bobcats tickets to Charlotte-based non-profit organizations. For every Friday and Saturday game as well as five marquee match-ups, Wallace has purchased 25 tickets. The tickets along with a food voucher are given to underserved children, so they and their families can attend and have the best possible experience at a Bobcats game.
“I purchased tickets to give them the opportunity to come and watch the games and see a role model and someone to look up to,” explained Wallace as he talked about the program.
Wallace is also actively involved in a project in his old neighborhood in Childersburg. There, The Gerald Wallace Foundation is working to make improvements to the Phyllis Wheatley Community Center. Wallace recently helped install a new rubberized basketball court to create a place where a variety of community events can be held. A continual work-in progress, additional improvements to the center include new backboards, new doors and windows and new paint.
Gerald Wallace’s commitment to the community through the creation of his foundation personifies the emphasis the Bobcats place on giving back.
“Being active in our community is something I promised we would do from the very beginning, and Gerald is a shining example of that commitment,” said Bobcats owner Robert L. Johnson. “Grounded in core values like passion, integrity, hard work and teamwork, Gerald is a player and leader of which this community can be proud, and his foundation will have a positive and lasting impact on all that it reaches.”
Having someone like Gerald Wallace reach out to kids can have an influence on them like nothing else can.
“Athletes have a unique opportunity to encourage kids to do things that sometimes their parents can’t encourage them to do,” said Bobcats President and COO Fred Whitfield. “I think a player like Gerald, who every night gives everything he has on the floor, now is going out in the community with the same type of effort and doing the same things for kids. It’s inspiring to everybody.”
“Ever since I’ve been here he’s been willing to do anything we ask in the community,” he added. “Now he’s taken another step. He’s personally going out and starting his own foundation. He’s not just talking about it. He’s doing it. He’s living proof of exactly what we want NBA players to be like, particularly in Charlotte.”
Fans wishing to support The Gerald Wallace Foundation can do so by becoming a sponsor of Gerald’s Blocks and Steals. As part of the program, fans pledge a certain dollar amount for every block and steal Wallace records throughout the season. For more information on this program and The Gerald Wallace Foundation, log onto www.geraldwallacefoundation.org.