May 17, 2011

VCU ATHLETICS, VILLA 7 JOIN FORCES TO HELP TORNADO VICTIMS IN ALABAMA

RICHMOND, Va. – Much was written about the collaborative efforts of Nike, the Center for Sport Leadership at VCU and VCU Athletics in hosting the annual Villa 7 Consortium.

However, there was a lot more than handshakes, seminars and networking going on as the organizations also came together to install the first-ever "Shirts and Skins" program, which benefited a fund created by University of Alabama Head Coach Anthony Grant and his wife Christ, named Sweet Home Fund, which was created to help the victims ravashed by the deadly tornadoes in Alabama.

"With the stress and business that surrounds college basketball, it's easy to get wrapped up and not realize how unbelievable blessed we all are," VCU Associate Athletic Director Mike Ellis said. "This was just a way of putting together a program that shows a small snippet of how grateful we are to be in these positions. Anything we can do to help others out, we're going to try and do."

With approximately 80 of the country's top up-and-coming men's and women's college basketball assistants descending upon Richmond, Ellis and the Villa 7 program asked for each to donate t-shirts and polo shirts as their "entry fee" to the two-day event.

"The response was outstanding, we had hundreds and hundreds of shirts," Ellis said. "I can't put an exact figure, but for it being the first time we've done this, I'm very pleased with the outcome."

Anyone who visited Ellis' office over the past month saw that overwhelming responses with mountains of shirts throughout. With plenty of places for the shirts to go, Ellis and company found out about Grant's new charity and decided to give the former VCU head man a ring.

"We are extremely appreciative to Norwood [Teague], Mike [Ellis] and the entire Villa 7 Consortium for reaching out and helping the people of the state of Alabama in the recovery from the devastating tornadoes that hit the state," Grant said. "Their donation to the Sweet Home will continue to help the families recover and shows them how much love and care are coming from coaches across the country."

Ellis said that the "Shirts and Skins" program will become an annual program that coincides with the Villa 7 event each spring that will benefits charities throughout the country.

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