Column: Turiaf's Empowerment Center Gives Back To Youth
Ronny Turiaf has found a mission much larger than basketball during his playing career. His own personal journey of undergoing open-heart surgery just before joining the NBA gave him a life-changing calling that, throughout his career, has evolved into an operation geared toward helping young kids battling similar obstacles.
His Heart to Heart Foundation continues to grow because of that cause.
“We keep in mind the end goal of accomplishing our dream and helping other people shine,” Turiaf said. “It makes the day-to-day activities a little bit sweeter that with all of our effort, we might change one life. That’s all it takes.”
Turiaf’s Heart to Heart Foundation officially began its newest venture on Wednesday, an Empowerment Center in Los Angeles that further helps young continue to learn, grow and develop as individuals during their journeys. The center’s goal is to provide a place where kids, teens and young adults can take part in positive activities. They can learn leadership skills as well as study nutrition, heart health and other ways of living positive lifestyles.
Turiaf and his foundation held a ribbon-cutting for the Empowerment Center on Wednesday in conjunction with the Community Coalition of Los Angeles.
Special guests for the ribbon-cutting included Eric Batch (Vice President of the American Heart Association), Nicole Jones (Chair of the American Heart Association-Los Angeles Division), Marqueece Harris-Dawson (President/CEO of the Community Coalition) and representatives from HeartSine.
The idea for the new venture came from Turiaf’s business partners while trying to brainstorm how to continue making a lasting impact on others. They’ve worked toward raising health awareness through the Heart 2 Heart Foundation for years, but this time they wanted to take it a step further. This time, they wanted to facilitate a way to speak with kids and provide a place where they can continue developing goals for themselves along the way.
“The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow,” Turiaf said. “We want to make them feel important because they are important, and we want them to do great things.”
Turiaf said he’s proud of the progress his foundation has made since its inception in 2009. He said the important part is knowing the group as a whole is helping impact young kids’ lives.
“I’m humbled and I’m proud, because there are a lot of people that believe in me,” Turiaf said. “And it’s making all of their work and all of the volunteers and all of them who believe in helping others—it’s an honor for us.”