Adonal Foyle keynoter at Orinda fundraiser to help youth
with life skills
By Lou Fancher
Former Golden State Warrior Adonal Foyle is making a fashion statement. The veteran NBA player, philanthropist and author says education as attire is absolutely in style.
With an undergraduate degree from Colgate University and a graduate degree from JFK University's sports psychology program, Foyle is the keynote speaker at "Leap Into Fashion," a fundraising luncheon April 17, at the Orinda Country Club.
Proceeds from the event support underserved youth engaged in JFK's Solt Evans LEAP Project.
Life Enhancement through Athletic Participation (LEAP) jump-starts an alternative future for youths at summer camps and workshops. Using sports activities to teach team building, anger management, goal-setting, and other life skills, a Challenge Camp at Orin Allen Youth Rehabilitation Facility in Byron has been operating since 1991.
LEAP coordinator Deborah Osteen-Munch says the boys selected to participate at Orin are not the only participants to reap rewards from the program. Life-changing revelations arise on "both sides" of the equation.
"For several JFKU interns, this experience changes the population they intend to work with. They have a greater desire to work in the underserved population," she says.
In 2014, two JFK students completed 11-week internships at Mt. McKinley High School (part of Juvenile Hall in Martinez), two interns are in residence at Orin during the year, and for the 2015 summer camp, an add-on day will bring campers and interns together with Sam Williams of Tackling the Odds, to speak about his experience as an NFL player with the Raiders and the sports-related life skills he utilizes everyday.
For boys 10-18 who've been incarcerated at the unlocked facility for engaging in criminal behaviors, the weeklong camp culminates in an endurance rope course. The combination of physical challenge and emotional support is so unforgettable that Osteen-Munch says one participant told her he hoped to bring his son to witness the rope course after he has been released.
Foyle, she says, is the perfect spokesman for the program because his personal story is one of endurance, integrity and dedication to community and education.
Foyle grew up on Canouan, a tiny Caribbean island he says is so small he could run from one side to the other in 15 minutes. With no electricity and limited resources, Foyle turned deprivation upside down after being adopted at age 15 by two Colgate University professors.
While playing pro basketball, he completed his college degrees and launched the Kerosene Lamp Foundation, a nonprofit to teach leadership to kids in his homeland. His books (including an upcoming June 23 release, "Winning the Money Game: Lessons Learned from the Financial Fouls of Athletes,") and two "Too Tall Foyle" children's picture books) reflect a deep devotion to learning.
"LEAP is a practical experience and a huge part of putting the educational muscle to use," Foyle says.
"Classroom learning is one thing, but JFK is great at stretching the (university) students so they have assets and skills once they're out in the field."
Like Osteen-Munch, Foyle sees growth in all the LEAP participants and applies similar service philosophies in his work as the Warrior's official community ambassador.
"I go out and shine light on work we're doing in the community," he says.
Tackling problems like illiteracy, inadequate healthy living awareness and anti-bullying are obvious do-good campaigns, but Foyle says the messages he supports strive for more.
"To change a child takes a tremendous amount of work," he says. "Mentorship, taking them out of a distracting environment, offering a steadfast belief in their ability to change are ways to extend the olive branch back to help the next young person."
Seven children brought from Canouan -- only one had thought of pursuing higher education -- left the United States after a visit unanimous in their desire to go to college. Foyle says professional athletes have "such a reach" that speaking out on education and other good causes has an incredible impact.
"When athletes speak on subjects outside of the sports realm, we criticize them. But that's what society needs to let them speak on," he insists.