Rising Stars Reflect on their Personal Growth
According to Rising Stars Youth Foundation founder Paul Savramis, his nonprofit organization turns 25 in 2021. Here, the basketball maven and child advocate touches on a few key bits of information that have impacted rising stars over the last 2 ½ decades.
Q: How did Rising Stars come up with the core values of Play, Learn, and Grow?
Paul Savramis: Our Play, Learn, Grow value system stems from Nike’s PLAY Foundation. This was an initiative that was popular in the mid-90s. Nike fashioned a Peace Corps for sports, and corp members coached underserved children in different athletic disciplines. Such an innovative program and was a huge inspiration for Rising Stars.
Q: How have your former campers been involved?
Paul Savramis: Dan Gimpel and Jay Williams, the latter of which is well-known as an anchor for ESPN, are both former student-athletes of the Rising Stars program. Dan currently serves as our executive director and Jay Williams is a spokesperson and staunch advocate. Both of these individuals, along with Williams’ mother Althea Williams, and our new educational director, Emily Ades, have come together to shape many of our programs and outreach efforts. Without these individuals, and many others, Rising Stars would not be what it is today.
Q: What would you say is Rising Stars’ primary objective?
Paul Savramis: Contrary to what many people believe, basketball is not our endgame, so to speak. What we hope to do is to promote social equality and encourage diversity acceptance. Many of our student athletes come from “different sides of the track” and, under other circumstances, may not have an opportunity to get to know one another on a personal level. We believe that by using basketball as a bridge between different cultures, we can encourage people from all walks of life to be better members of their community.
Paul Savramis wishes to extend a heartfelt thanks to the hundreds of students and their families that have been a part of the Rising Stars family for the last 25 years. He looks forward to what 2021 has to offer and offers a final bit of praise to his entire staff for handling the curveball that was the pandemic with compassion and grace.