Up2Us Sports, a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to inspiring youth through coaching and sports, welcomed celebrities and pro athletes to its annual gala at Guastavino’s in New York City on Wednesday.
Greatness often manifests in the face of adversity. Israel Frank, Up2Us Coach Across America (CAA) coach at Brotherhood Crusade Soccer for Success Program, is a true testament to this statement.
Initially, Israel's goals were to obtain his GED, secure employment, and change his life trajectory. With the assistance of his case manager, Israel attended work readiness classes at the YouthSource Center. After demonstrating significant mastery of vocational skills, Israel secured a seasonal job at Vans. Combined with a sincere desire to improve the quality of life for young people, this experience prepared Israel for his CAA appointment.
Check out our video to hear Israel's story and to learn just what makes him Up2Us' Coach Across America Coach of the Year.
The Second Annual Up2Us Gala was a great success, bringing together more than 300 guests including Hollywood celebrities Heidi Klum, Gretchen Mol, Jonny Lee Miller and Kyle MacLachlan who mingled alongside sports figures such as New York Giants cornerback, Prince Amukamara, Milwaukee Bucks power forward, John Henson and U.S. Olympians Kim Vandenberg and Sarah Hughes. More than 300 guests joined the celebration while raising more than $470,000 to help advance sports as a solution to the critical challenges facing America’s youth – obesity, violence and academic failure. College basketball analyst Bill Raftery emceed the star-studded event, joined by Pro Football Hall of Famer, Curtis Martin who presented the Up2Us Legacy Award to Commissioner Tagliabue. Jay Agresta, President of Benzel-Busch Motor Car Corp, presented the second Up2Us Legacy Award of the evening to Stephen Cannon. The program included a powerful video highlighting the struggle and success of Up2Us’ Coach Across America (CAA) coach Israel Frank. The crowd rose to their feet after the Coach of the Year winner’s moving speech, “Through my training at Coach Across America, I’ve learned to separate the child from the behavior. The kid isn’t bad, he’s just made bad choices,” Coach Israel explained. He added, “I see kids going in the wrong direction like I was, and Up2Us has given me an opportunity to show them the right way. Like the other CAA coaches, I’m someone the kids can relate to and I think that’s what makes Up2Us’ Coach Across America program so effective.”
“Coach Israel’s story is a testament to the power of sports and the important role mentors can play in the lives of young people, especially kids living in underserved communities,” said Paul Caccamo, founder and president of Up2Us. “The support we have received from our friends in the business, entertainment and sports community has been incredible and encouraging. Every day, news reports remind us of the urgent need to advance the SBYD movement and place more coaches like Israel Frank to serve our nation’s most vulnerable youth. We can create real social change through sports and positively impact the lives of millions of children across the country."
Take a look at some of the photos below!
Up2Us hosted its first gala this past June at Tribeca Rooftop in New York City. Over 350 guests celebrated and supported Up2Us’ mission to advance sports as the solution to the critical challenges facing America’s youth.
Following cocktails, Sandra Bernhard opened the program by introducing Up2Us Founder & Executive Director Paul Caccamo who gave a touching speech on the power of sports to transform the lives of youth. Internationally acclaimed musician and composer Wynton Marsalis presented Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with the first ever Up2Us Legacy Award, recognizing the NBA hall of famer for his 20-plus years of contribution to sport, education, and humanitarian efforts. Following Kareem, NBA All-Star David Lee presented three Coach Across America coaches with the Coach of the Year award, recognizing them for their exceptional service and dedication to supporting at-risk youth.Cocktails were held on Tribeca's famed rooftop where guests were treated to 360 views of the Manhattan skyline and a red carpet, which included Naomi Watts, Sienna Miller, Erin Heatherton and other notable personalities. Emcee of the night, comedian Sandra Bernhard, rocked out on the red carpet with a guitar signed by Mick Jagger, which later sold for $15,000 at our live auction. Up2Us honoree and NBA Legend, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, also joined the red carpet walk, taking pictures with other athletes including Sean Avery, David Lee and Sarah Hughes.
Congratulations again to Ebonee Le'Triece from World Fit for Kids, Michel Tilapa from Beyond the Ball and Payne Schanski from Tenacity on their Coach of the Year award. Up2Us would like to thank everyone for their support in helping us get one step closer to our goal of placing 1,000 coaches nationwide by 2015. We look forward to seeing you all at our 2014 Gala!