How many of you remember the first sporting event you attended?
We’re willing to wager a pretty good amount.
With the holiday spirit reaching full swing, 76ers Managing Partners Josh and Marjorie Harris hosted 40 students from the Camden chapter of the After-School All-Stars program at Monday’s game against the Phoenix Suns.
For many of the After-School All-Stars in attendance, their only prior exposure to the 76ers had been limited to watching games on TV, or consuming content online.
Monday, however, gave these kids the chance to live and breathe the real thing.
“It’s amazing,” Josh Harris said of being able to bring the After-School All-Stars students to The Center. “To see the looks on their faces when they hear the sound of the crowd, their eyes brighten up. Having them experience this is something I really enjoy.”
Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment operates sports properties in all three cities. The Harrises consider it their responsibility to target those areas and use the power of sports to elevate and empower underserved youth.
“I think it’s just naturally part of who we are, and what we’d like to do for the community,” Marjorie Harris said. “We are in the fortunate position to be able to help these children. It’s a gift to be able to do that for them, and hopefully we can provide them with a great night, a great memory, a goal for themselves to work harder in school and know there are people out there who care about them.”
“Sports is amazing in the sense that it grabs kids and draws them in,” said Josh Harris, a former student-athlete at the University of Pennsylvania, where he wrestled. “You can use sports to give kids a path to lead better lives, whether that means eating better, or keeping them safe, or studying in school. To take people less fortunate than you, and possibly make a difference in their lives is something I feel almost is an obligation that I have, especially in places and areas that the team touches.”
During Monday’s game itself, the Harris Family Charitable Foundation and 76ers recognized the achievements of several After-School All-Stars students on the center court scoreboard, and presentations on the floor.
Between the game, and their interactions with the children on-hand, the Harrises are hoping Monday’s outing will have a lasting impact.
“For me personally, the gravy is being able to see 40 kids smiling, laughing, and eating popcorn and enjoying themselves, and thinking about our players as being role models for them or someone they could look to,” said Marjorie Harris. “Maybe one basketball game can help inspire them to do better, to do more, and give back to their communities.”
“I think that’s how it works for us. We’re part of a big community, and it’s our job to help each other. For me, the best part of it is to see them smile, happy, and go home having a great memory of the Philadelphia 76ers.”