April 18, 2017

SVSU hosting 10th annual ‘Pros vs. Joes’ charity basketball game in honor of fallen student

Faculty and staff from Saginaw Valley State University will hit the hardwood Tuesday, April 18, to help raise money in the name of a student who died tragically 10 years ago.

The 10th annual “Pros vs. Joes” charity basketball game is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Hamilton Gymnasium inside SVSU’s Ryder Center. The game pits SVSU faculty and staff, or the “Joes,” against members of SVSU’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, or the “Pros.”

Money raised for the event supports the Abou Traore (ah-BOO tray-OHR-ay) Memorial Scholarships. Traore was a pre-med student at SVSU who died in a drowning accident in 2007. He had aspirations of returning to his home country of Senegal as a doctor.

The scholarship was endowed at $10,000 after five “Pros vs. Joes” events, and the game has raised another $5,000 since. The event is still going strong, even though some of those in attendance did not get the chance to meet Traore.

“Now we’re at a point where students weren’t impacted by him directly,” said Michele Gunkelman, the director of SVSU’s Residential Life office. “Most of the ‘Joes’ team is just participating because of the cause and to help out because they’re such giving people.”

This year’s “Joes” team might be the biggest yet, as 27 people have signed up for the game.

“Students are like, ‘Oh, my professor is playing in that? So they’re going to stop out to see that,” Gunkelman said.

Money is raised through donations but also from those in attendance paying money to free a player from the “penalty couch.” Players must wait there after committing a foul while cheerleaders raise money from the crowd to get them back in the game.

Two students receive $1,450 scholarships each year. This year, Nana Kofi Yevoah, a business administration and accounting major from Ghana, and Pratima Gurung, a nursing student from Nepal, were chosen from 175 applicants to receive the scholarships.