Former Globetrotter giving back to Staunton home

Story by Chris Graham

Jerry Venable was a shining star on the basketball court – averaging 15.5 points a game in two years at Kansas State, getting drafted by the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, playing five years on the most famous hoops team in the world, the Harlem Globetrotters.
But the Staunton native concedes that he could never have done what he did – from playing basketball at the highest levels of the game to being able to see the world – on his own.

“I was from a single-parent home. My mom and my family worked super-well with me and encouraged me – and with the local community, people in the community who helped me to my chances to go on to a successful career with the Harlem Globetrotters and through education to get my degree at Kansas State University,” Venable said in an interview on this week’s “Augusta Free Press Show.”

Venable is giving back to the community that made him through a charity that he launched three years ago, Learning Opportunities Through Sports, a Staunton-based nonprofit that aims to improve the lives of young people in the Greater Augusta area by promoting sports and educational activities. The organization, which also goes by the acronym L.O.T.S., is hosting a pair of fund-raisers next week – an Aug. 16 lunch with another pair of former Globetrotters, Meadowlark Lemon and Marques Haynes and an Aug. 17 captain’s choice golf tournament featuring Lemon, Haynes and former Baltimore Oriole Larry Sheets.

Both events will be held at Ingleside Resort in Staunton. Tickets for the lunch are $125 for adults and $50 for children under 15. Teams can enter the golf tournament for $400 – with individuals paying $100 for a spot in the tourney.

More information on both events is available on the web at www.lotskids.com.

Venable wants L.O.T.S. to reach out to children like himself when he was coming up.

“It makes you might scary when you think about it – from when I took off in my first year in 1970 to pursue that career, and you look up, and you’re down in South America speaking Spanish, and barely could speak English. And you’re faced with a challenge that if I hadn’t had the tutelage and mentorship of the community, I couldn’t have faced it – and I would have been back home standing on the corner again, probably,” Venable said.

“I perservered because of the training that I got from my mentors here in the Valley. And all I’m trying to do now is give back to my community that I love, and the kids that I love, so that they’ll be able to enhance their lives and their life skills,” Venable said.

  

Chris Graham is the executive editor of The Augusta Free Press.



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