Bridgers Nayo and Taylor Escort Hurricane Sandy Victims to Brooklyn Nets Game
This fall, the catastrophic Hurricane Sandy claimed over 200 lives and left many struck the East Coast more homeless. From food drives to donation funds, many relief efforts sprung up in Sandy’s wake to ensure that families caught in the chaos were given the help they needed. Red Hook, which is located in Northwest Brooklyn, was just one of the neighborhoods affected tremendously by the hurricane. Sandy’s wrath left the neighborhood with heavy flooding and frequent power outages. Almost immediately, relief efforts were sent to the community in order to help these families get back on their feet. The giving didn’t end there; the newly built Barclay’s Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets, offered young Red Hook residents and their families the chance to attend a basketball game for free. I was fortunate enough to chaperone a group of young boys from Red Hook, who ranged from ages three to ten, at this game. Though we may have had different experiences during Sandy, we shared an immense passion for basketball as well as for those who’ve mastered the game.
I watched the kids enter the stadium, marveling the size and cheering exuberantly once their hero Brooklyn Nets’ player Deron Williams appeared on the LED screen. After the boys put on their basketball attire - a pair of wristbands, a headband and a black Brooklyn Nets tee - we headed to the main court where we played a game of our own. The boys were excited to play on very court that their favorite basketball players had played on, and their excitement skyrocketed once they saw CJ Watson, another Brooklyn Nets’ player appeared on court. He was gracious enough to take pictures with some of the kids (and even a few with us) and stayed afterwards to chat with some of the parents.
Soon after that, it was time for lunch. We were given about half a dozen kids each and we headed to the main floor to immerse ourselves in some good old Brooklyn cuisine: hot dogs, hoagies, Philly Cheesesteaks, pastrami sandwiches and other local delicacies. Like most arena foods, it cost an arm and a leg, but it was worth it! Once we got back, the boys were greeted with another surprise the team was on the court practicing for their upcoming game against the Orlando Magic. Tornike Shengelia, Reggie Evans and Kris Humphries were just a few of the players that were present, but when the kids spotted Deron Williams, in the flesh, waiting at the rim of the seats, everyone went wild. The enthusiastic boys rushed to the NBA superstar in swarms with hopes of getting their basketball attire, basketballs, or bare wrists autographed by their hero. Deron, who is a father himself, was incredibly gracious and nice to both the kids and their parents. By the end, Reggie even offered to give out a few more autographs before they left. While we waited, the Brooklynettes practiced their dance and the stilt-walkers showed off their skills, impressing the continuously amazed kids.
Before the game began, the kids had a chance to high-five the Brooklyn Nets roster as they made their appearance on the court and cheered them on as they finished the game with a victorious 74-82 win. Being able to watch these kids meet their idols and do what they love was such an honor. As 2012 comes to a close, their optimism through such a rough time continues to amaze, even inspire me, to better myself as a person and to keep my head up when life seems to hit an all-time-low. Without Youth Bridge NY, I would’ve never had an opportunity to meet such inspiring young men and for that―I thank them.
~Taylor Rochester, Brooklyn Technical High School