In honor of their work and commitment to youth in Miami through Operation Coach, the Miami HEAT honored the Operation Coach team at the November 25th "Home Strong" game against the Golden State Warriors.
The Miami HEAT's generous donation in 2014 provided Up2Us the opportunity to launch Operation Coach, a program that hires returning veterans to serve as coach-mentors in sports-based youth development programs.
The two Up2Us coaches honored at the game were Josie Martinez (Air Force Technical Sergeant E6) and Kleiton Almeida (Marine Corps Third Class Petty Officer), along with the Operation Coach Program Manager, Edwin Vasco (Marine Corps Lance Corporal).
German DuBois, Up2Us Miami Regional Director, said "the night was representative of the longstanding reputation the HEAT have of supporting local veteran causes and being part of a larger community effort to do so. We are so appreciative of the support from the HEAT. The night was an affirmation of a great partnership.”
Martinez, Almeida and Vasco were honored at half court as part of a special pre-game ceremony and given a plaque for their continued service to their communities, court-side seats and an opportunity to be shoulder to shoulder with the players in their pre-game huddle. The plaques are on display at their program sites in Miami.
Steve Stowe, Executive Director of the Miami HEAT Charitable Fund, had this to say about inspiring other professional teams to sign on with Up2Us: "We want all other teams in the NBA, maybe in other leagues, to join with Up2Us and really make a statement where we can look back 10 years from now and say this is amazing; that we started all of this in Miami.”
Questions about the Operation Coach program in Miami can be directed to Regional Director German DuBois.