As his Thunder teammates and the donors who filled the building from far and wide continued to mingle, Russell Westbrook surveyed the scene. His family was there, and he spent time with them. He cracked jokes with his teammates, and he shook hands and took photos with everyone in attendance.
In the back of his mind though, he couldn’t help but think about getting the bowling pins set up, and starting up the action at his 8th Annual Why Not? Bowl. The ever-competitive Westbrook was eager to knock the rust off his bowling game, and see what kind of skills his teammates had too.
“My teammates showed some love,” Westbrook said with a smile rising on his face. “It’s always good to get all the guys out of their homes. They get a chance to bring their families as well and enjoy themselves.”
“Events like this really helps us, but we get to help others too,” guard Raymond Felton grinned.
Alongside the entire Thunder roster were members of the Oklahoma community, and even a group who traveled from as far as Hong Kong. As for the locals, R&R Homes’ Rocky Clark was at a lane with six of his 11 grandkids, soaking up the time to chat it up with their home town team.
“Russell is a great guy,” Clark said. “We’ve supported this thing for five years and it’s something we look forward to every year.”
A pair of businessmen from Hong Kong, Tobi Doeringer and Bradley Dowding, were in town as a part of a group of long-time donors to the Why Not? Foundation, while also representing their company, Silentmode. Even from halfway across the globe, Doeringer and Dowding recognized Westbrook’s foundation as one that has a strong mission statement and even more powerful follow through.
“Literacy is the key to have a good education and to be able to get somewhere,” said Doeringer, who began supporting the Why Not? Foundation through his Rotary Club in Hong Kong. “There’s a lot of help needed in those areas of the cities in LA and Oklahoma. We’re very keen to raise that awareness as well and hopefully more and more people will pick up on it.”
“I respect it massively,” added Dowding. “It’s nice to see people using their positions to be able to do something like that.”
The reason that people from all over the state and the world continue to support Westbrook and his charitable endeavors is because he proves it with his actions in the community. Westbrook has now announced the opening of 39 of his Reading Rooms, including 26 in Oklahoma City elementary schools and another 13 in Los Angeles. Westbrook is extremely grateful for those who have invested in the Why Not? Foundation, and at an event like Tuesday night’s, it is a chance for him to show his appreciation.
“That’s why I think it’s important that I constantly keep showing where the money is going and how it’s impacting kids,” Westbrook noted.
Russell’s Reading Rooms and Westbrook’s continual investment in not just the youth but in the infrastructure of elementary schools shows that he believes that learning and having accessing to resources are crucial for developing minds. By giving opportunities to underprivileged children in both of his home cities, Westbrook has impressed his teammates, and made a major impact in the lives of future leaders, businesspeople and citizens.
“It’s tremendous. We’re more than just athletes. We like to do a lot in the community,” Felton said. “To see another person like him, the status that he has, give us his time in the community and want to do it, that means a lot.”
“For my foundation now, the biggest thing for me is education,” Westbrook explained. “Literacy is the most important thing, in my opinion, for kids growing up.”
Watch: Why Not? Bowling for Literacy