Detroit Pistons and The Come Together Foundation Announce Game Changer Of The Year And Impact Award Winners

Game Changer Of The Year Awarded Chrysler 300c

The Detroit Pistons and the Come Together Foundation are culminating a year of recognizing the impact of community volunteers in the State of Michigan by awarding the 2013 Game Changer of the Year to Alex Zayid, of Commerce Township, and the $25,000 Impact Award grants to Veronika Scott, of the Empowerment Plan, Don Wackerle, of Camp Fish Tales, and Delashea Strawder, of the Mosaic Youth Theatre.

Zayid was awarded the 2013 Chrysler 300C John Varvatos Limited Edition and the Impact Award winners each received a $25,000 grant to use to fund their respective non-profits. The winners will be honored at the Pistons’ Hometown Hero Monday Nov. 25 when the team battles the Milwaukee Bucks at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

“The Game Changer of the Year and Impact Award winners have done outstanding work in the community and the Pistons and Come Together Foundation want to recognize these often unsung heroes,” said Dennis Mannion, CEO and President of Palace Sports & Entertainment.

These awards – presented through the Pistons’ Community Relations platform, Come Together – embody the goal of utilizing the Pistons and Palace to bring Michigan together, celebrating those that make a positive impact through volunteerism in their own communities.

Zayid, who has raised more than $20,000 for the American Cancer Society in southeast Michigan through his Youth for the Fight organization, was the top vote-getter for the honor of more than 600,000 fan votes cast online.

The Impact Award winners were honored statewide for their commitment to the community in volunteerism and youth leadership. Scott co-founded a non-profit, Detroit-based organization that employs homeless women, who produce warm coat-sleeping bags, which are distributed to the homeless. Wackerle started a summer camp for children and adults with special physical needs to provide physical activities not typically available to them. Strawder is the Director of Music programs for the Mosaic’s core Main Stage training program, providing arts training and performance opportunities for the youth.

Game Changers – who are making a difference in their community through leadership, service and volunteerism – can be nominated any time at Selected Game Changers and their inspirational stories are recognized at Pistons home games.

2013 Game Changer Of The Year

Alex Zayid – Top Vote Getter
After losing his father to cancer in 2010, Zayid established Youth For The Fight. The mission of his organization is to inspire a network of young adults to participate in philanthropy and increase awareness to support cancer research and treatment. Zayid and his Youth For The Fight committee have fundraised and donated more than $20,000 to the American Cancer Society in southeast Michigan for general use and for the Road to Recovery program, which pairs volunteers with cancer patients to provide transportation to their appointments and treatments.

2013 Impact Awards

Veronika Scott – The Empowerment Plan (Detroit) – Volunteerism
The Empowerment Plan is a non-profit organization, employing homeless mothers from local shelters as seamstresses to produce coats that transforms into sleeping bags. The coats were created by Veronika Scott for a class project at the College of Creative Studies in Detroit. The convertible coat is then given to homeless men and women in Detroit to help them survive the cold weather. Scott plans to use the $25,000 Impact Award for the 2013-14 Winter Survival Program – allocating the funds to manufacture the coats. Each coat costing approximately $100 to produce; 250 coats will be made and given to the homeless in Detroit.

Don Wackerle – Camps Fish Tales (Pinconning) – Youth Leadership: Athletics
When his son was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy, Don Wackerle found it challenging to find summer camps who specialized in caring for those with special needs. In an attempt to create something for both his son and other families struggling with the same challenges, Wackerle hosted a fishing contest to raise money to send children to “barrier-free” camps, which led him to open Camp Fish Tales in 1989. Currently, over 200 children and adults with special physical needs from across the state attend the annual camp which includes fishing, rowing, swimming, archery, rock climbing, tee ball, kick ball and dancing. Wackerle plans to use the $25,000 Impact Award to create a completely accessible, universally designed playground which allows individuals with disabilities the opportunity to develop skills necessary to engage, change and impact their world around them simply by playing.

Delashea Strawder – Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit (Detroit) – Youth Leadership: Entertainment
As a painfully shy 15-year-old Detroit Public Schools student who loved music, Delashea Strawder joined the Mosaic Youth Theatre Singers. Strawder blossomed and quickly became a leader in the ensemble. As a high school junior, she started teaching music classes at local recreation centers and after high school, she joined the Mosaic staff as assistant music director. She became Mosaic’s director of Music Programs in 2009. Her story of how the arts can provide opportunities for growth, leadership and creativity in youth clearly demonstrates Mosaic’s mission since it was created in 1992. Strawder will use the $25,000 Impact Award for Mosaic’s core Main Stage training program which provides youth development experiences through accessible performing arts for approximately 100 students, ages 7-18, annually.