On September 18, the Siloam Wellness Center, a nonprofit that promotes the mental, physical, and spiritual well-being of people living with HIV / AIDS in the Philadelphia area hosted an event entitled “Full Awareness Press.”
The event, held at the Salvation Army Camden Kroc Center, featured students from elementary school through college ages in 3-point shooting competitions. In addition, speakers from a wide variety of sporting areas addressed various wellness topics and topics.
Former men’s basketball head coach Phil Martelli was a speaker at the event. His brother Steven has been HIV positive for over 30 years.
Sarina DiBianca, Executive Director at Siloam, said Martelli has the biggest heart of anyone she has ever met.
“His message was always ‘What do you need, how can I help and how can I serve?’” Said DiBianca.
Martelli spoke to the audience via Zoom and challenged the teenagers present.
“I’m going to ask you to spend this day trying to learn,” said Martelli. “Then I want you to teach in your street, teach at home, teach in your school and in your church. Get involved in your local community. “
A former Martelli player also spoke at the event. Jumaine Jones, although not a St. Joe’s Hawk, played for Martelli as a college player in the 1998 Goodwill Games.
Jones said the Cocoa, Florida neighborhood he grew up in had no role models for his youth, so getting involved in the community is important for him.
“The basketball game was so good for me,” said Jones. “But I try to use the basketball game as a platform to draw attention to so many other things in this world.”
Jones runs a foundation called Beyond the Hardwood that educates children about career opportunities that are different from those of a player in basketball.
“If you love the game that much, there are jobs around it,” said Jones. “I try to draw attention to this so that children don’t get into a state of depression when [being a player] it does not work.”
Tony Vlahovic, a former Boston Red Sox pitcher, spoke about the importance of inclusion.
“People in your school who have a physical or mental disability …[they] want to play as much ball as you, ”said Valhovic.
Vlahovic played an integral role in introducing baseball to the Special Olympics, an organization dedicated to inclusion and diversity in Olympic sports for children and adults with disabilities. He said his teenage experiences led him to create more opportunities for people with disabilities.
Inclusion extends not only to people with disabilities, but also to underrepresented groups in sports communities. Former WNBA players Tanae Davis-Cain and LaToya Bond shared their experiences as women in basketball.
According to Bond, it is important for women who have been successful in sports to give back to the next generation of female athletes.
“Now they have an opportunity to see women in a position they want to be in instead of always looking up to men,” said Bond.
Tony Coleman, an NBA scout, emphasized the importance of building a positive image on social media.
“I’ve seen student athletes lose grants because college coaches saw what’s on their social media accounts,” Coleman said. “It is very important to properly brand yourself.”
Coleman says events like Siloam’s are an integral part of developing the community’s youth.
“It helps [them] Stay focused and stay on track, so [they] can reach its full potential, ”said Coleman. “It’s super important to pour in [the youth]. “
Before Martelli unsubscribed from the Zoom call, it was the former St. Joe’s basketball coach who gave each youngster attending a badge of honor.
“Do not think that you are not important,” Martelli said to the audience. “You are in a special place and do special things. That makes you a hero. “
Martelli will be honored on October 10th on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Siloam. Visit siloamwellness.org for more information.