fixture in the community


The Thunder made a commitment early to make an impact in the community. While establishing that pillar of the franchise, a lot of memories were created and traditions established that helped cement the phrase Thunder Cares.



GROWING THE GAME


The Thunder made a commitment early to make an impact in the community. While establishing that pillar of the franchise, a lot of memories were created and traditions established that helped cement the phrase Thunder Cares.

youth basketballPhoto by Zach Beeker/OKC Thunder



PLAYERS FULL OF SURPRISES


One year it’s a group of Thunder players walking onto a high school football field for the pre-game coin-flip, another year sees Steven Adams and Andre Roberson donning helmets to participate in practice. One year there are players in Halloween costumes for a party at Children’s Hospital, another features rookies Terrance Ferguson and Dakari Johnson in full fire fighter gear, participating in a challenge to honor first responders. There have been laugh-out-loud moments between Thunder players and senior citizens playing Bingo or participating in Fit Clinics and touching moments with somebody who needed only a hug or somebody to listen. From surprise moments to planned appearances, Thunder players consistently find ways to make people feel appreciated.

youth basketballPhoto by Zach Beeker/OKC Thunder

firefightersPhoto by Zach Beeker/OKC Thunder

Children's HospitalPhoto by Zach Beeker/OKC Thunder

bingoPhoto by Jimmy Do/OKC Thunder



THUNDER GRANTS UNIQUE WISH


The Thunder has a deep relationship with Make-A-Wish, dating back to its inaugural season in Oklahoma City. Of all the wish requests granted over the years – typically a weekend that involves a night of bowling or a special event with players in addition to a Thunder game -- one in particular stands out. In 2012, Putnam City North senior Lorelei Decker joined the Thunder coaching staff for a day. She spent the morning of April 24 with players and coaches and watched courtside as the Thunder defeated the Sacramento Kings.

youth basketballPhoto by OKC Thunder



SPONTANEOUS FUN IN THE AISLES


The annual Thunder Shopping Spree with Sunbeam Family Services has seen it all over the years – players riding bike through the aisles, players giving piggy-back rides to their little shopping buddies or even rocking a pink feather boa. The emotional-yet-magical night also includes many moments that go unnoticed – the hugs, players personally paying for charges above the allotted shopping amount or, as was the case in Season 1, Nick Collison delivering a basketball goal to a family’s home after learning they had no way to get it home.

youth basketballPhoto by OKC Thunder



THUNDER COMES TOGETHER AS ONE

Other than their time together on the court, it’s rare to see all 15 players, the coaches and staff gathered in one place at the same time. The Thunder, however, is committed to finding ways to connect as an entire organization. These full-staff outings include packaging food at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, updating and refurbishing an elementary school, serving holiday meals at City Rescue Mission and providing a facelift to the exterior of the Boys & Girls Club. 

youth basketballPhoto by OKC Thunder



THUNDER SALUTE TO MILITARY

Military Appreciation Night is a staple of the Thunder schedule and its various theme nights. But the relationship goes far beyond one night. Thunder players annually make surprise visits to the VA hospital and have joined staff members to pack care boxes for service men and women stationed overseas, have worked side-by-side at food banks and have hosted holiday parties and basketball clinics for children whose parents are deployed. Highlighting this special relationship are the two on-court surprise reunions the Thunder has pulled off during Christmas games – the first in 2011, featuring Oklahoma National Guardsmen deployed to Afghanistan; the second this past season.

youth basketballPhoto by OKC Thunder



A PASSION FOR READING

Fueling the passion for reading in Oklahoma students has been a long-standing commitment for the Thunder organization and its partner, American Fidelity. It is a 12-month commitment that includes Thunder players, the Thunder Girls, the Rolling Thunder Book Bus, a state-wide reading challenge and the introduction of a high school book club. Ten years has produced a number of special moments – Kendrick Perkins reading Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”; therapy dogs joining Enes Kanter and Steven Adams for a Reading Timeout – and annual traditions such as the Thunder Girls’ reading The Polar Express at Sooner Elementary and reading to kids in the summer months.

readingPhoto by OKC Thunder



EXTREME MAKEOVERS IN CITY

The Thunder arrival coincided with a development arc that would see dramatic changes throughout the metro area. Some are obvious – the arena, the rise of downtown and the popularity of its surrounding districts – but a number of large-scale projects are not. During its NBA Finals run In 2012, the Thunder overhauled the gymnasium and created a Learn & Play Center at City Rescue Mission. Similar Thunder makeover projects have taken place at Positive Tomorrows, Justice Seaworth Academy, Webster Middle School stat lab learning room at the pediatric Intensive Care Unit at INTEGRIS, to name a few.

makeoverPhoto by OKC Thunder



DONORS CHOOSE, STUDENTS WIN

To celebrate a decade of Thunder Basketball, the team and its Thunder Cares Foundation launched a digital call to arms in September to support Oklahoma teachers and their classrooms through DonorsChoose.org, an online non-profit crowdsourcing fundraiser. The Thunder matched donations to Health & Sports projects in schools across the state. The impact was staggering. More than $140,000 was donated to support nearly 600 projects reaching more than 78,000 students at 225 schools.

donor's choosePhoto by Jimmy Do/OKC Thunder



The Thunder, its players and its fans have consistently come together in times of need. Immediately following the devastating 2013 tornados that struck Moore and El Reno, the Thunder and Kevin Durant each donated $1 million to the rebuilding effort, and numerous players – including Russell Westbrook, who was on crutches at the time -- made their way to the area to meet with first responders and visit with residents trying to pick up the pieces. This past fall, the Thunder rallied together to pack a moving truck filled with donations of athletic gear, water and various supplies to support victims of Hurricane Harvey.

stepping upPhoto by Jimmy Do/OKC Thunder