Sefolosha Visits, Donates to CHAPPS Program

Thabo Sefolosha makes winning basketball plays that can sometimes go unnoticed. Tipping a rebound to a teammate, switching quickly on a pick-and-roll and making the extra pass don’t necessarily show up on the stat sheet, but they’re critical to the Thunder’s success as a team.

Maybe that’s why Sefolosha decided to make a visit to a group of people in the Oklahoma City community whose contributions may often be subtle – the Oklahoma City Police Department. On Tuesday, the Thunder guard stopped by the police department offices in downtown Oklahoma City to donate a 10,000-dollar check to the OCPD C.H.A.P.P.S. program (Cops Helping Alleviate Police Problems).

The program supports the families of police officers who are either injured or killed in the line of duty, assisting with all sorts of needs that may arise as a result of their family member putting themselves in harm’s way each day. Sefolosha presented the check, then gave a message to the officers and family members in attendance for the ceremony.

“I’m really honored to be doing this for the families, for all of you because you guys put your lives on the line every day with the work that you do,” Sefolosha said. “As a family man, I’m happy the streets can be safe and that is because of you guys.”

“Often times, the work that you guys do is overlooked,” Sefolosha continued to the officers. “So I think it was important, especially a few days after Veteran’s Day. Everybody talked about the army and soldiers, but you guys are the soldiers of the streets here in Oklahoma City. I just wanted to do something for those families, for you guys and for all of the officers.”

Master Sgt. Greg Giltner was the coordinator of the C.H.A.P.P.S. program for 12 years, and said that what started out as a group of officers who simply wanted to help others has now turned into a funded operation that helps families with medical bills, funeral costs and other issues when difficult times occur. Sefolosha’s donation is sure to be a major boost to the program.

“A check like this will help a lot of families in a lot of ways,” Giltner said. “(His visit) made those kids day. That’s what it’s all about in the Police Department. We’re all a big family and we help people out in a time of need. This will go a long way in helping families like that out, it’s just incredible."

The financial commitment is certainly significant, but what was more important to Sefolosha was the chance to meet with and help comfort families of those impacted by police tragedies. Alycia Douglas and her son were both in attendance on Tuesday. Alycia’s husband Robert Craig Douglas was a sergeant for the Oklahoma City Police Department before dying in the line of duty. Without the C.H.A.P.P.S. program, families like the Douglas’ would be facing even more difficult financial hardships on top of emotional trauma. Sefolosha spoke with the kids, talked to the families and officers, and left quite an impression.

“Seeing him here, he’s very nice, very gentle-mannered and very sincere,” Alycia Douglas said. He’s really glad that he was able to do this with the C.H.A.P.P.S. program and it really gives the C.H.A.P.P.S program a boost.”

“I think the Thunder players have really extended themselves to the community,” Douglas continued. “They’re very supportive and our city is very supportive of them. We’re very proud of our Thunder players. We’re proud that they’re here and we are very appreciative that they are so involved in so many charities and so many different organizations in the city.”

As Douglas mentioned, Thunder players and the organization as a whole make a concerted effort to be present and visible in and connected to the Oklahoma City community as frequently as possible. The bond the organization and its city share is one that continues to be strengthened on a daily basis, and events like the one Tuesday at the OCPD is one of the many reasons why.

“It’s great to do something like this,” Sefolosha said after meeting with the families and officers. “I’ve always been impressed with the work that police officers do and I think to be able to give back, especially to a community here like Oklahoma City… It’s great to show that appreciation that the team has, that I have for them and I’m sure that the (Thunder) organization has for them.”

For more information about C.H.A.P.P.S., visit here: http://www.okc.gov/okcpd/about/chapps.html