Connor Sports Cares 2015 Award Recipients
2 years ago
Connor Sports strives to create community change through our products and partnerships. We believe our success originates with an uncompromising commitment to quality and extends to our measured commitment to talent, time and resources in the communities we serve.
Each year we present the Connor Sports Cares award to dealers who share in our mission to provide quality product and community resources. Three dealers received the 2015 Connor Sports Cares award for embodying the spirit of Connor Sports, Jose Diaz of Trident Surfacing, Praters Hardwood Flooring and Kevin Hirschi of Mountain Heights.
Jose Diaz received the Connor Sports Cares award for his work with Jeff Fogel. Jose helped Jeff share his story by funding “Who is Lou Gehrig?,”, a film mixing illusion and reality to tell about Jeff’s struggle with ALS and commitment to coaching.
Jeff has been working with kids as a counselor and coach for over 20 years including at Camp Blue Star in North Carolina and the Michael-Ann Russell JCC in North Miami Beach. His motivation as a coach and mentor is to teach his kids the life lessons both on and off the field through good sportsmanship, teamwork and dedication, all principles that Jeff lives by each day.
In February 2012, Jeff was diagnosed with ALS. Jeff no longer has the use of his arms and now relies heavily on a wheelchair. Despite the daily challenges that Jeff now faces, it doesn’t slow him down. Jeff continues to coach in house basketball, flag football and is the current director of the Girls Prime Time Basketball program. Jeff’s team, Prime Time Girls Basketball, is currently ranked 1st in the State of Florida and 2nd in the national rankings for the USSSA league. In addition to Jeff’s coaching responsibilities, he still finds time to give back to the community. He currently sits on the planning committee for the Wheels and Waves charity event, which hosts a wheelchair basketball tournament and Special Olympics swim competition.
Although there is no known cure or treatment for ALS, Jeff will tell you that his best medicine is working with his kids on a daily basis.
Praters Hardwood Flooring received the Connor Sports Cares award for their role in the Peace Basketball Tournament. The Peace Basketball Tournament strives to break community divides through the power of basketball by bringing together youth from different boroughs or cities on the court. This allows communities to build relationships and create brotherhood on neutral territory.
Praters Hardwood Flooring has designed and painted all of the Peace Basketball Tournament courts to date. Not only have they been involved in the logistics of the Tournament, they have also been involved in the emotion. Below is an excerpt from the Prater’s blog written by Mark Frainie.
Excerpt from ‘Ballin’ for Peace by Mark Frainie
So I went to Saint Sabina for the Peace Basketball Tournament with a preconceived notion of what I would find there. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I did not find any monsters. What I found instead were a bunch of kids, many of them not even old enough to shave, who seemed really grateful and excited to be there.
I saw NBA stars, community leaders and religious leaders who really cared for these kids. Who really wanted to get through to them and let them know they were loved. To let them know they had a choice. To let them know that they could escape a culture of violence and death and better themselves.
And these kids seemed responsive to this message. I saw rival members talking and hugging after the games. Laughing and smiling as if they were old friends.
It made me wonder how they could be the cause of so much suffering. What amount of hopelessness must it take to turn these young men into the killers that have terrorized this Southside community?
What are the chances that they will be those killers again?
I went to Chicago skeptical, but left inspired. I went there wondering how a couple of basketball games could make a difference, but came away with the understanding that this wasn’t about basketball at all. The games were just an excuse to bring these kids together and show them that people cared for them. To show them love.
And this is why I am optimistic about how this will all play out. It is because there are people in that community and people that these kids respect and look up to that are reaching out to them with love.
And love never fails.
Kevin Hirschi received the Connor Sports Cares award for his passion to tell the real store about Autism. Kevin founded the non-profit Champions for Autism this past year. The organization strives to promote and raise public awareness of ASD through advocacy and education to lower the average age of diagnosis.
About the Hirschi Family and Champions for Autism by Jan Worms
Champions for Autism was started in 2015 officially, but it actually started the day Kevin and Angela Hirschi's child Ridge was diagnosed with Autism. That was the real day this organization started. As executive director and personal friend of the Hirschi's, I can truly say that their family walked out of the doctor's office determined to know and experience every aspect of Autism. To open every door they could and those they couldn't, find someone who would. I am sure that never was there a day that they uttered, why did this happen. Instead they walked out yearning to make a difference. They did feel fear, but it was for Ridge's well-being.
Their focus and determination has and is to learn and do more. This focus turned into an infection, friends, work associates and even strangers began to feel the same want and need. During a conversation with Kevin's business associate and friend John Issacs (Vice President and General Manager of Connor Sports) an idea was sparked and the Hirschi family has never looked back. If Kevin and Angela could, they would personally help every autistic child they could find, but they are only two people and so the next best thing was to create a charity that could do what their individual limitations could not.
They saw the benefits and the success of early intervention. They considered themselves fortunate to have the time, finances and medical network to help Ridge, yet felt frustrated that so many people do not have the resources nor understanding of what Autism is. If you are ever fortunate enough to meet them, you too will understand their passion.
To learn more visit: http://www.championsforautism.org/
Congratulations Jose Diaz of Trident Surfacing, Praters Hardwood Flooring and Kevin Hirschi of Mountain Heights on receiving the Connor Sports Cares award. Your commitment to quality, generosity and compassion makes you all Connor Sports champions.