"We are blessed to have a way to make an absolute and positive impact on the lives of people who truly need assistance," says Tar Heel head coach Roy Williams. "Donating the proceeds from the autographed basketballs allows our players to feel a special bond with the community. Our players are pleased to know they have a hand in helping others who need it most."
The basketball team selects the local charities on an annual basis. The money for the student aid fund goes to needy North Carolina residents who attend the University. The team has delivered food to and spent time with the Interfaith Council and Ronald McDonald House during the holidays in recent years.
"It's a great opportunity to give back to our communities," says David Noel, a senior from Durham. "There are a lot of special things I associate with being a Carolina basketball player, but the chance to actually help people in need is one of the ones I feel strongest about."
The student-athletes chose to share a portion of the proceeds with the Pediatric Oncology/Hematology Department at UNC Hospitals in part because 3-year-old Reece Holbrook is receiving treatment there. Reece is the son of Jennifer and Chad Holbrook, an administrative assistant to Coach Williams and assistant baseball coach at Carolina, respectively.
"Our guys have seen first-hand with Reece the great work being done at UNC Hospitals," says Williams. "He gives them inspiration and they wanted to say thank you to UNC Hospitals on his behalf."
During the season, the Tar Heel men's basketball team also purchased toys and other items for underprivileged children and gave a clinic for North Carolina Special Olympics.
Last year, the Tar Heels donated a total of $36,000 from the sale of autographed balls.