How Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores’ $350,000 pledge during SAY Detroit fundraiser will help kids help others

Vince Ellis
Special for Pistons.com

Tom Gores’ charitable donations to SAY Detroit have become an annual occurrence.

Earlier this week, the Detroit Pistons owner found a creative way to spur the spirit of giving in children.

Gores called the Detroit non-profit’s annual radiothon Thursday evening and pledged $350,000 during the event for the charity providing assistance to the city’s neediest residents, needs that have been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But in a creative twist, $250,000 will go to the non-profit, and the kids who attend the charity’s play center on Detroit’s east side will determine another charity (or charities) to receive the remaining $100,000.

“Take that $100,000 and you figure out one, two, three or 10 (charities) for you guys to collaborate on to determine where to give it back in the city,” Gores told SAY Detroit founder and radiothon host Mitch Albom. “There’s a lot going on. Whether it’s COVID, social justice issues, there’s just so much going on.

“I find it empowering for the kids to have a voice. If anybody can do it, I think it’s the SAY Detroit kids and yourself.”

The radiothon raised more than $1.5 million, a record for the event that has been held for nine years.

Gores typically ponders creative donations to SAY Detroit. In the past, he’s based donations on Pistons win totals or kids meeting reading goals.

This year, Gores is helping kids’ explore the wonders of helping others.

“I will work with our kids to come up with a very wise use of it and assure you before we accept that money,” Albom said. “We will present that idea or ideas and show them to you.

“I think it’s wonderful to engage the kids. We cannot thank you enough.”

Albom founded SAY Detroit – the acronym stands for Sports Academics Youth – to provide afterschool programming for inner-city youth.

“Our young people will seize this opportunity to think critically and creatively, to be change makers and learners,” said Dana Davidson, Co-Executive Director of Academics and Program Development at the S.A.Y. Detroit Play Center.  “The gift of $100,000 with which our young people must come up with other organizations and programs to donate as a means of improving communities in Detroit is such an empowering and insightful opportunity.”