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Tyreke Evans teams up with VSP for free basketball camp & eyeglasses

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Not all the Kings players are out of town.

Not only is Tyreke Evans in town, but he’s here doing two of his favorite things — working out and working with kids.

On Thursday, June 14, Evans teamed up with VSP Vision Care at the Dr. Ephraim Williams Family Life Center in the Oak Park section of Sacramento for his second annual free basketball camp for students in need.

The kids were selected by the Family Life Center as well as by VSP partners Asian Resources and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Sacramento.

About 100 kids were able to shoot hoops, participate in a Q-and-A session and even get some classroom training alongside Evans and mentors from the Positive Coaching Alliance. Tomorrow, another 100 kids will be getting the same attention.

Evans, who always had his big brothers around to push him and keep him focused in the right direction, enjoys being able to have a positive impact on kids.

“I think it’s great,” said Evans. “A lot of kids don’t have a chance to meet a player at a camp. I know when I was growing up it was a big dream of mine to meet an NBA player or go to one of their camps. To be able to do it for kids at these ages — for free, with VSP’s help — I think it’s a great opportunity for people to come here and get some experience.”

Bill Herenda, the executive director of the Positive Coaching Alliance, was glad to supply coaches for the event.

“It’s an unbelievable opportunity to get out into the community with our message of ‘better athletes, better people,’ and to amplify VSP Vision Care’s mantra of eyesight being critical to the kids’ success and growth on the floor and in the classroom,” said Herenda.

Along with the free hoops clinic Evans and the coaches were hosting, free eye exams were given to those in need, in one of the 45-foot fully loaded buses that VSP owns.

The program was born from a need after Hurricane Katrina. VSP employees traveled to the scene and gave free prescription eyewear to those who either lost everything in the storm or were displaced from their homes.

Since then, the fleet has increased to three, and travels the country in search of others in need.

The eye doctors that give the exams do it all on their own time. On this day, Dr. Russell Ng was the lucky one that got to examine the kids in need.

“The kids in the community need eye care,” said Ng. “It helps them in their academic performance as well as in sports.”

“This is the first time that I’ve been associated with this and I’m definitely going to provide more time going forward.”

Niki Myers is the operations manager for the VSP Mobile Eyes Program. In her time in that role, she’s already traveled the country giving out free exams and glasses, but finds that doing the same in her hometown is also very rewarding.

“We love doing community outreach in our own towns,” said Myers. “We love our partnership with Tyreke. We’ve been working with him for the last three years.”

And then the other shoe dropped.

“Not only does he help VSP put on this basketball camp for the second year in a row, but we also sponsor the city of Chester, Penn., where he came from.”

That’s right. Never say the guy forgot where he came from.

Part of Evans’ deal with VSP is that they go back to not only his school, but also the other schools in the area, and give those kids in need the eyewear and care they may not be able to afford on their own.

Last year, VSP found that about 10 percent of the kids examined needed some kind of correction. Back in ‘Reke’s home town, because of Evans’ encouragement of the local youth to come out and get the exam, that number escalated to between 20 and 30 percent.

No worries, as all the kids that needed new spectacles got them.

Paul Gonzalez was out watching his two boys, 8-year-old Javier and 9-year-old Miguel.

“I enjoy it because I like them enjoying themselves,” said the proud father of two. “They love the game of basketball and are huge Tyreke fans. They both have Tyreke jerseys. It’s an amazing experience to come out here and watch some good coaching and good times with their friends out here.” 

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