Giving A Little TLC Through Basketball
By Alicia Wanek
Sports can bring people together. As an athlete or a fan, being part of the game is an exciting way to enjoy your free time. If you’ve ever attended a Texas Legends game, you know it’s all about fun for every member of the family. The Legends is an organization committed to bringing the community together in an entertaining environment, so it’s no surprise that they partner with the non-profit outreach organization Texas Legends Care (TLC) to extend that opportunity to every child and family that they serve.
Established in 2012, TLC is “dedicated to building relationships deep within the community to make a lasting, positive impact…” Executive Director Samantha Matthews sees it as an “extension of the spirit and commitment to giving back” on which the Legends have prided themselves from the beginning. Donnie Nelson, General Manager and President of Basketball Operations for the Dallas Mavericks (of which the Legends are an affiliate) and TLC board member says, “The Texas Legends were created to help those in need and honor those who serve. Texas Legends Care is that vehicle.”
They show their support through a wide variety of outreach opportunities. The Marques Haynes Scholarship Fund provides scholarships for kids to attend sports camps offered at the Texas Legends facility, where they often have the opportunity to meet players from the team. Samantha has seen how much this program has meant to children who may not have been able to attend otherwise. “We believe that all children, no matter their socio-economic status, deserve the same opportunities to pursue their passions. Sports develop character and promote teamwork and a healthy, active lifestyle,” she says.
Through the organization’s Legendary Kids Program, youth and families from low-income communities, selected through local nonprofits and schools, are given an opportunity to attend Legends games. These are often once-in-a-lifetime experiences for these kids. An administrator at Arturo Salazar Elementary in Dallas wrote this in appreciation to the Texas Legends Care program: “Some of our students have never experienced this type of event, and many of them have never traveled outside of Oak Cliff, so attending the Texas Legends game is an incredible resource for broadening their world perspective. The Texas Legends bus program helps support students’ social-emotional growth, hands-on learning and enrichment for many academic concepts.”
Additionally, over the course of the team’s season, they partner with 24 local non-profits and honor one at each home game. TLC is proud to partner with Raytheon to provide tickets to past and present military persons and their immediate family members at every home game, and their partnership with Home Depot allows them to honor a community hero at each game as well.
Samantha is hoping to deepen the relationships they’ve established, especially with the Boys & Girls Club and Dallas ISD schools to make an even bigger impact. She believes, “It’s important that children have access and exposure to participating in community events, which bring our youth beyond the borders of their neighborhood.” It’s really about a lot more than basketball, but in the process, they’re having a lot of fun.