Spartanburg celebrities play hoops for good cause

By Bob Montgomery 
Staff Writer

Ricaye Harris scored with one second left to lift the white team over the blue team 39-37 in a Ball4Good women’s celebrity basketball game Sunday at Spartanburg Day School.

“I’m not disappointed,” said blue team celebrity Ann Angermeier of the Upstate Workforce Board. “Coming back from 10 down (to tie the game) was great. It was fun for a great cause. And nobody got hurt.”

Sunday also featured a men’s celebrity game and exhibition games with the Cleveland and Pacolet Boys and Girls Clubs.

Ball4Good founder Adom Appiah, a ninth-grader at Spartanburg Day School, said it’s the third year of the fundraiser for Ball4Good. Proceeds support Project Hope Foundation, an organization that serves people with autism in Spartanburg County and across the Upstate.

This year, Ball4Good also recognized three other nonprofits: Sidewalk Hope, Citizen Scholars Institute and Brothers Restoring Urban Hope.

Click photo for Video.

Click photo for Video.


The event was sponsored by the Spartanburg County Foundation and supported by the City of Spartanburg, Spartanburg schools and several community leaders.

Project HOPE Foundation was founded in 1997 by mothers looking for services for their young sons with autism. Project HOPE Foundation provides services and programs that help families, promote inclusion and teach life skills.

Anthony Ianni, a former Michigan State University basketball player, addressed the crowd in between the men’s and women’s celebrity games.

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PHOTOS: Ball4Good celebrity basketball game

He said he was diagnosed at age 4 with an autism disorder and told he would never be an athlete. He proved doubters wrong, and after graduating high school in 2007, he eventually landed on the Michigan State basketball team as a walk-on for two years, being on a team that went to the Final Four.

He was the first athlete with autism to play Big Ten basketball. He majored in sociology.

He said he is proof that someone with autism can lead a full and productive life. But it takes commitment and hard work to make dreams become a reality, he said.

PHOTOS: Ball4Good celebrity basketball game

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“Enjoy today,” he said. “Be relentless.”

Celebrity participants had a good time but also showed their competitiveness.

At one time, they gave a referee a hard time for calling a 3-second violation. Other calls were questioned as well.

“We felt slighted,” Angermeier said, smiling.

Women Giving of Spartanburg include Project HOPE among Grant Recipients

Women Giving for Spartanburg announced its 2018 grant awards at its annual meeting this week. This year, the organization gave a total of $196,642 in financial assistance to seven local nonprofits.

Angels Charge Ministry will receive $25,200 to open a third Home of Hope; Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Upstate will receive $22,192 to fund Bigs in Blue & First Responder Mentoring; Mental Fitness will receive $31,450 to build depression prevention modules for the SHARPEN app with mental health and suicide prevention experts and other local professionals; Northside Development Group will receive $25,000 to fund a Reading Nook at the Franklin School; Project HOPE Foundation will receive $37,000 to construct a playground designed to improve life for children with autism; Spartanburg Art Musuem will receive $20,000 to develop technology that will enhance teaching; and TOTAL Ministries will receive $35,800 to purchase and install an outdoor freezer that will be accessible from inside the food pantry.

“Announcing our grant awards is always the highlight of our year with Women Giving for Spartanburg,” Chairwoman Susan Jeffords said in a statement. “This is what we are about. There are so many nonprofits doing wonderful work in our community, and through our collective giving framework, we are able to support their efforts.”

The group’s grants committee requests grant proposals from local nonprofit organizations each year for innovative projects focusing on areas highlighted by the seven Spartanburg Community Indicators Project areas. After review, site visits and a grants showcase, members vote on the organizations to receive money.

Membership is open to any woman in the Spartanburg community. Annual dues are $550 for junior members (ages 35 and under) and $1,100 for regular members.

2017 Hope Gala

Autism can sometimes be devastatingly dark ... but we are determined to bring light through our range of services. To fund these services, we rely on generous people like the 530 who attended our Evening of Hope gala on Saturday. Want to see what these dollars are important?  Take a look:

Empty Ink and Toner Cartridges = Funding for services

We are excited to be working with US Recycling to benefit the environment and support our programs.   We are seeking corporate sponsors to donate and recycle empty ink and toner cartridges on our behalf. We will earn cash for qualifying ink and toner cartridges that are returned to US Recycling. If you are interested in supporting this project, click here to register online and get started.  Thank you!

Benton Blount's Got Talent

Our friend, Benton Blount, has made it to the semi-final rounds of America’s Got Talent! He will compete again on Tuesday, September 1, 8:00-10:00pm. Benton has been a long-time supporter of Project HOPE Foundation, performing at our Evening of Hope Galas, our HOPE Relay, and in our classrooms! We are excited to see that he has been sporting a Project HOPE Foundation wristband as he performs on AGT.

Corky’s Wine & Spirits is hosting a viewing party on Tuesday, with proceeds going to support the programs of Project HOPE Foundation. This family-friendly event will be held at 1350D Crestview Rd., Easley, SC.

Help Hope and Brighten your smile

Dr. Koutsioukis is using his dental practice to bring bright smiles while supporting services for the autism community.  During April, he is offering a free take-home professional tooth whitening kits for every donation of at least $50 to Project HOPE Foundation.  You do not need to be a patient; simply show the receipt for your donation.

Bruce Clayman, from the Project HOPE Foundation Board of Directors, won an iPad mini from a referral contest held by Dr. Koutsioukis.  Bruce donated the iPad mini to be used by the Hope Reach therapy program and hosted Dr. Koutsioukis and his team on a tour of our clinic.  Thank you for visiting and for finding creative ways to bring HOPE to the autism community!