This past fall, NBA superstar Alonzo Mourning received the devastating news that he needed an emergency kidney transplant. As the shockwaves from his announcement rippled throughout the world, Alonzo found himself in a tough situation. His commitment to charitable endeavors are well-known, and that December he had planned to host “Zo’s Annual Holiday Party,” an ice skating event at Rockefeller Center with the children of the York Street Project . Despite the great adversity that lay ahead of him, Alonzo refused to cancel, and instead enlisted the support of Rizk Ventures. Tom and I had been introduced to the Mourning family earlier in the year, and they personally called us to ask if we could help. Alonzo explained that he would be heading into surgery the morning after the event, so he would not be able to attend. Even in the face of an invasive medical procedure and a career ending illness, he wanted to ensure that the children were “well taken care of.” Delighted by the prospect of working with the York Street Project to bring holiday joy to so many children, we of course accepted the couple’s invitation.
When called upon, our team at Rizk Ventures sprang into action. My son Geoff organized a toy drive at his high school and was able gather over 50 gifts, each of which corresponded directly to a special wish made by a York Street child that year. My daughter Alexandra came to the event dressed as Santa’s helper and worked with our “real” Santa to distribute presents. We made all the necessary preparations with Rockefeller Center to create a private area for the children and had teams of professional skaters on hand to act as instructors. Alonzo’s wife, Tracy Wilson Mourning, left her husband’s bedside to attend, wearing a brave face as she hugged, skated, and spent time with each and every child. The passion and commitment to charity both Tracy and Alonzo have displayed solidified our friendship with the couple, and Tom and I plan to be lifelong supporters of the Mourning Family Foundation.
The Mourning Family Foundation was established by Alonzo and Tracy Mourning to inspire others through advocacy, education, and enrichment services. By contributing to the organization, donors with varied interests in children’s issues can give to several charities at once. Since 1997, MFF has raised over $4 million for various programs that aid in the development of children and their families, particularly those in socioeconomically challenged communities.
BELOW ARE SOME OF OUR FAVORITE MOMENTS FROM THE EVENT: