Story originally posted on Syracuse.com on April 27, 2018
By Donna Ditota; syracuse.com
Syracuse, N.Y. — On Saturday, benefactors of the Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation will wear fancy clothes and gather at the couple’s 19th annual Basket Ball at Turning Stone Resort. They will have paid a significant amount of money to mingle will Orange basketball royalty.
On Friday, a day before the gala, the Boeheims presented the Boys and Girls Clubs of Syracuse with a check for $100,000 to kick off a campaign designed to raise $1 million during the club’s 125th anniversary year.
Without Saturday’s Basket Ball, days like Friday likely would not happen.
“One lady gives us $50,000 who comes to our gala earmarked for the Boys and Girls Club,” Boeheim said. “That’s worth having the dinner alone. But we also raise $400,000-$500,000 for other kids’ organizations and for cancer research at Upstate, things like Field of Dreams, like the First Tee. We’ve been able to support a lot of good organizations locally. All of our money stays local.”
“This is exactly what the Ball is for. And cancer. We’ve given a researcher that’s doing unbelievable pediatric cancer research $100,000,” Juli Boeheim said. “Kids in need is our biggest request. Jim has always been tied into (the Boys and Girls Club). Whatever it takes to keep the doors open, that’s what he’s going to do. The doors are wide open now and that was our mission — to make it look this good.”
Boeheim talked later of the importance of the Syracuse-area clubs as places that provide computers, homework help and areas to hang out, have fun and be safe and productive.
“We’ve tried to get the Boys and Girls Club back on stable footing for a number of years and I think we’re back where we’re now fully operational. The clubs are in great physical shape, we’ve got great programs, Pat Driscoll is doing a great job of really organizing everything,” Boeheim said. “We’re serving over a thousand kids in the community. No other organization in the city can do that.”
Boeheim has stressed over the years how generous people in Central New York have been in giving to his and Juli’s foundation. Mahoney, a former Boys and Girls Club board member, recalled Friday that at one point, dwindling finances shut down the Shonnard Street facility and threatened the stability of the clubs.
And then Boeheim called.
“He took the time to call county legislators, city councilors,” Mahoney said. “He said ‘I want to live in a community that has a strong Boys and Girls Club.’ That turned things around in Central New York. … When somebody like Coach Boeheim and Juli Boeheim stand up and say ‘This is one of the most important things we do, will you help?’ — it got a lot of people focused.”
Pat Driscoll, the executive director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Syracuse, is also a college basketball official who works high-profile games. He introduced Boeheim during Friday’s news conference with a reference to the SU coach’s on-court disdain for referees.
“Early on in my tenure as executive director, after coming off the board (of directors), I made reference to Coach Boeheim that ‘Who said that a basketball coach and a referee can’t get along?,” Driscoll said. “To which he replied, ‘These are two very different circumstances.'”