By DAVID BORAKS
Mr. Lovedale began working with people in his native Nigeria before graduating in 2009, and the 2nd annual race is a fundraiser for the A2S Foundation, which he set up in 2010 to continue the work. The first 5K a year ago attracted about 200 runners, and donations from about 300, raising $10,000.
Mr. Lovedale wasn’t able to make it last year, as his professional basketball schedule kept him in Europe on race day. But this Saturday, “We’ll be there for the race,” he said in an interview. “I really want to be there this year, so we can all have fun. But also to be giving back. That’s what it’s all about.”About 250 runners are expected for the run on the wooded country trails behind the college campus in Davidson. The men’s race begins at 9 a.m., and women at 9:30. This year also brings a post-race party and awards ceremony at the Brickhouse Tavern on Depot Street, with Wildcat basketball coach Bob McKillop, former Wildcat standout and current NBA star Stephen Curry and associate head men’s basketball coach Jim Fox as celebrity bartenders.
FOUNDATION GIVES BACK
Mr. Lovedale credits a long list of people with helping him get where he is today, including the folks at Davidson, where he played basketball on a scholarship. “If I did not get the support that I got from the Davidson community, if I did not get help from the coaches, and from people in Nigeria, I would not be here,” he said.
While a student at Davidson, Mr. Lovedale and former Wildcat Frank Ben-Eze and a group of volunteers went to Benin City, Nigeria, on a trip with Samaritan’s Feet, to deliver shoes collected during a “Kicks From Cats” drive.
Mr. Lovedale’s efforts have only expanded since then. His A2S Foundation is in the midst of a long-range partnership with Logos Academy, a free school in Benin City. The foundation has been supporting scholarships, buying equipment and supplies and helping to hire and train staff. The next big projects will be a kitchen, for a feeding program at the school, and a library/computer center, he said. He also would love to build a public basketball court in Benin City, where the population of 1.2 million has access to only one free public court.
Why do this?
“I don’t think geography or location should determine your dreams,” Mr. Lovedale said. So he and his fellow A2S volunteers returned to Nigeria this summer and are committed to continuing fundraising and other support.
Mr. Lovedale’s is driven to help, in part by his own experience. “When i go back to Nigeria, and I see the youth, and I see what they are going through, there is this thing in me,” he said, “that if I had not had the people that God has given to me in my life, I would not be where I am. … If I can give back the love that I have gotten, they can become whoever they want to be in life.”
The 6-foot 8 inch basketball player has been an inspiration to many young people in Benin City, for his summer basketball camps and his example.
MARRIED AND PLAYING BALL
He’s actually headed back to Europe in October to play professional basketball again, though he wasn’t sure yet where he’d be playing. In recent seasons, he has played for STB Le Havre and UJAP Quimper in France, and BBC Monthey in Switzerland.
Meanwhile, Mr. Lovedale brings another bit of happy news back with him this weekend. He was married a couple of weeks ago to longtime girlfriend and 2007 Davidson grad Molly McQuillen. She recently got her law degree from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and has joined the Cleveland law firm Jones Day.
ANDREW LOVEDALE 5K
The Andrew Lovedale 5K is Saturday, Sept. 1, at Baker Sports Complex, 200 Baker Drive, on the Davidson campus. Proceeds benefit the A2S (Access to Success) Foundation.
Race-day registration runs 7:30 – 8:30 a.m. The men’s race is at 9 a.m., followed by the women’s race at 9:30. An awards ceremony and post-race party follows at the Brickhouse Tavern.
More information is at A2Sfoundation.org. And click on the site’s “about” tab for for more about Andrew Lovedale’s story, the situation of kids in Benin City and the mission of A2S.