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Men’s Basketball Brings Smiles to Kids’ Faces

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Author(s)

Jon Stone

Media Relations Manager

Jon Stone

Justin Beach

Before the start of the DU men’s basketball season, many of the players and coaches spent a week giving back to the Denver community. They volunteered at the Denver Rescue Mission and the Ronald McDonald House. They also spent an afternoon with kids at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

“I don’t know if it’s better for the kids or better for us, just because it is so fun,” says guard Jake Pemberton, who grew up in Highlands Ranch, Colo. “They think we are coming here to help them, but at the same time, these kids are helping us realize how precious life is.”

With the recent arrival of coach Rodney Billups comes a renewed emphasis on giving back to those who need help in our community.

“Being out in the community and going to the Ronald McDonald House, the Denver Rescue Mission and coming here to Children’s Hospital, it’s been three really good days of enlightenment for our team,” says Dwight Thorne, director of basketball operations. For them, he explains, it’s especially gratifying to know they are helping kids who are from their own community.

Children’s Hospital cares for kids of all ages and different stages of life. The hospital treats more children than any other hospital in the region, and it’s known nationwide for treating children with life-threatening or rare conditions. Given the serious conditions facing many of the patients at Children’s, the players found that the time spent with the youngsters brought their own lives into perspective.

“It’s such a humbling experience,” guard Duke Douglas says. “We may have to get up and condition early in the morning, but that’s nothing. We are blessed to be able to do that. There are people going through much harder stuff.”

“Don’t take anything for granted,” Pemberton says. “We’re playing basketball at a college and most of us are on scholarship. Doing stuff like this and putting things into perspective, we can’t take anything for granted.”