Activists, NBA Stars and Olympians Celebrate Right To Play’s Advocacy for Youth at the 2018 Big Red Ball
New York, NY, April 26, 2018 - Right To Play, the leading global organization committed to improving the lives of children and youth affected by conflict, disease and poverty, celebrated its annual Big Red Ball on Tuesday, April 24 at Cipriani 25 Broadway in Manhattan. Professional athletes and Olympic supporters in attendance included Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Allyson Felix, Bismack Biyombo, Maia & Alex Shibutani, Hilary Knight, Hannah Brandt, Alana Nichols and Summer Sanders. Photos from the event are available here.
Hosted by NBC Correspondent Harry Smith, the Big Red Ball highlighted the organization’s efforts to positively impact the lives of refugee children through play-based learning. The evening also honored the inspirational work of African Youth Action Network founder Malual Bol Kiir and Bismack Biyombo of the NBA’s Orlando Magic.
Malual Bol Kiir was presented with Right To Play’s Champion For Children Award in recognition of his tireless efforts to support refugee youth in Uganda. A former child refugee from South Sudan, he participated in Right To Play’s programming in his childhood, and credits the organization for his survival. Kiir went on to found the leadership and peace-building African Youth Action Network (AYAN), which provides refugees a safe space to share their thoughts and ideas and build leadership skills. “I was inspired by Right To Play to be a peacebuilder and a leader. They showed me how to do it. Now, we (AYAN) use similar methods to organize reconciliatory meetings in refugee camps in Uganda where I work using sports and music festivals to encourage refugees to focus on our collective fate,” Kiir said.
Right To Play also recognized Bismack Biyombo of the NBA’s Orlando Magic with the Johann Olav Koss Humanitarian Award. Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Biyomobo’s often tumultuous journey to NBA stardom instilled in him an innate desire to give back. He’s since returned to Congo to create the Bismack Biyomobo Foundation, focusing on sports, education and life skills, including hosting basketball camps, building schools and recently constructing an indoor basketball facility and gym. “Right To Play provides children with an opportunity to go to school and get an education so that once their circumstances change and an opportunity presents itself, they are ready to seize it,” Biyombo said.
The signature fundraising gala brought together donors, supporters and VIP guests to celebrate Right To Play’s impact of improving lives for children around the world. The more than $1 Million in proceeds raised through table and ticket sales, live and silent auctions and a pledge drive will support Right To Play's global educational programs.
About Right To Play:
Right To Play is the leading global non-profit to use the transformative power of play to educate and empower children affected by disease and poverty, and displaced by conflict. We are revolutionizing classrooms in the United States and around the world, teaching educators and volunteers to use play-based learning to address the challenges they face in schools and in their communities. Right To Play provides programming in 18 countries - reaching two million children each week with a focus on quality education, life skills, health, gender equality, child protection, and building peaceful communities. Founded in 2000 by four-time Olympic Gold Medalist Johann Olav Koss, Right To Play is supported by an international network of more than 300 Olympic and professional athletes. Our Athlete Ambassadors serve as role models and advocates, inspiring children and adults around the world to participate in sport and play and to shape a better future for themselves and their communities. www.righttoplayusa.org
For more information please contact:
Brian Healey, External Affairs Manager