By Bob Montgomery
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.
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.
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.
“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.