On the eve of the day in which we give thanks for the blessings in our lives, among the many things I am thankful for are the many people who make sure that our most vulnerable neighbors are cared for.
“Kermit saved my life,” Tyrese told me. “He introduced me to basketball and taught me the importance of education and healthy living. That allowed me to go to college, but I always knew that I wanted to come back and do something similar to help the youth.”
And that is exactly what he has done.
After graduating from Rhode Island, Tyrese returned to New Haven and has teamed up with Kermit again to create the Sullivan Basketball Academy Mentoring Program.
The Academy promotes education, healthy eating and exercise among New Haven’s youth while also teaching them basketball skills. The program challenges the youth to succeed academically by providing constant monitoring and mentoring. In return, the athletes have the opportunity to travel around the country where they visit colleges and compete in basketball tournaments, as they will this month when they travel to Massachusetts, Atlantic City and Maryland.
“Some of these kids have never had a chance to leave New Haven,” Tyrese said.
Tyrese, who was born and raised in New Haven, said he is a living example of the impact such a program can have on a young man or woman. After graduating in 2006, Tyrese returned to New Haven and took over a youth program that had been developed by Kermit. After several years they decided to establish a non-profit organization and thus the Sullivan Academy was born.
“We are taking baby steps right now, but our plan is to grow this into something special,” Tyrese said. “We’ve received tremendous feedback from the community, but the biggest issue has been resources. Fundraising is so difficult, and I hate to ask the parents to reach into their pockets because they are already so stretched.”
That’s why it was an easy decision for the Tariq Farid Foundation to lend its support the Sullivan Academy. They are doing a tremendously important job of giving hope to our youth and helping them learn to become successful men and women. And that aligns perfectly with one of our missions, which is to support educational and skill development opportunities that enable individuals to reach their full potential.
“We are trying to give them balance in their lives,” Tyrese said. “We want let them know that there is much more to life than drugs, alcohol and violence.”
Jessica (far left) with Cindy (second from left) along with sisters Lauren and Julie.
When the Tariq Farid Foundation makes a contribution to support a worthwhile cause, I am often given an opportunity to meet the people behind the scenes. And each time I am moved by the dedication and passion of the people involved. That was once again the case when we recently selected the Cindy Lynn Sherwin Memorial Foundation to receive a grant to go toward the creation of a new park in a very needy area of New Haven, Connecticut.
Few people I have met are as dedicated and as passionate about their cause as is Jessica DaSilva. What she has done is simply amazing.
Seven years ago Jessica’s older sister, Cindy, died unexpectedly of an aneurism while training for an Ironman competition. Cindy, who was only 33 at the time, was a triathlete and fitness instructor. As a way to honor her sister’s memory and her dedication to promoting health and fitness, Jessica recently competed in a 100-mile race to raise funds for the Cindy Sherwin Foundation. The foundation was established following Cindy’s death by family and friends as a way to promote Cindy’s passions of fitness, well-being and healthy living.
Jessica was one of only 25 ultra athletes, and one of only three women, who started the 100-mile race last March. If you read her blog, you get a feel for the toll such a race takes on the body . . . and on the mind. Of the 25 athletes who began the race, Jessica was one of only nine to make it to the finish. It took her 27 hours and 55 minutes.
The money Jessica raised for her effort will now go toward construction of the Cindy Lynn Sherwin Memorial Playground at an elementary school in a needy area of New Haven, Connecticut.
Jessica said the Foundation approached the City of New Haven about where they should build a park. The city selected the West Rock Author’s Academy, a pre-K – 4th Grade magnet school that serves a large housing project in New Haven. The school offers advanced programs in writing and computer skills, but the children had no access to good physical fitness programs and equipment. Now they will, thanks to Jessica’s love for her sister.
“Cindy had no idea she would have playgrounds named after her or that people would run in her name, and I know for sure she never thought I would run 100 miles,” Jessica wrote on her blog following her grueling run, “… but life is crazy.”
Yes it is, and thankfully there are people like Jessica willing to take on whatever “crazy” challenge comes their way to make our world a better place for others.