Alumnus, basketball player continues ‘Nova spirit of charity

Vanessa Denice

When Villanova alumnus and current Minnesota Timberwolves player Randy Foye walks onto the parquet floor of the Wachovia Center on March 25, he’ll be doing more than just playing in a basketball game.

Returning to the same area that gave him an opportunity to play college basketball and earn his degree, Foye will be giving back. The game between the Timberwolves and the Philadelphia 76ers will serve as a fundraiser for the Randy Foye Foundation, and give all of ‘Nova Nation the chance to see what being a true and successful wildcat is all about.

“To me successful is not making a lot of money but it is what we do with the money,” Foye said. “The main thing is to touch as many people’s lives as we possibly can, in a way that inspires them to do something better or be something better.”

Most in the community are probably somewhat familiar with Foye, who played guard for the Wildcats from 2002 to 2006. Named the Big East Player of the Year in his senior season, Foye was one of the main reasons why the team made the NCAA Tournament in ’05 and ’06, advancing to the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight, respectively.

Upon graduating from Villanova, Foye entered the 2006 NBA draft and was picked seventh overall by the Boston Celtics. Two trades later he found himself with the Minnesota Timberwolves, playing with the likes of perennial All-Star Kevin Garnett. So far this season, his third in the NBA, Foye is averaging almost 17 points and over four assists per game.

But what Foye has accomplished so far in his basketball career pales in comparison to what he does off the court with his charity.

The roots of the Randy Foye Foundation stretch back to when Foye was a kid. After losing both parents by the age of six and raised in a rough neighborhood in Newark, N.J., he learned at an early age that he would have to make a decision about the kind of life he wanted to lead.

“Sometimes kids lose their parents and think it’s the end of the world,

Foye said. “It is the most devastating thing that could ever happen. I want to let the kids know that they can be inspired to work harder instead of using it as an excuse.”

Foye acknowledges that he was lucky in a lot of ways, despite his early hardships.

“I graduated from high school and went on to college, not even just to college but to a great school like Villanova,” Foye said.

Unfortunately, there are still many children around the country, especially in his hometown of Newark, who don’t think they’ll have the same opportunities.

“For many of these kids they will be the first in their families to go to college so the goal seems unrealistic at times. I was inspired to show them that if I can do something great with my life, so can they. I was each of those kids, and now I am a man who can be a role model for them to follow,” he said.

It was on a return trip to Newark that Foye saw how far he had truly come.

He saw kids playing basketball in tattered sneakers, just like he had once done.

“I wanted to start the foundation,” Foye said, “because I saw kids struggling and felt as though I was in a good position to help. I was someone who started off my life the exact same way that they are.”

In addition to his upbringing, Foye’s time at Villanova influenced his charity work as well.

He was with the team when they would hand out medals during the Special Olympics Fall Festival, and they would also do outside service work.

Three years removed from his tutelage under Jay Wright, Foye exemplifies values that he learned here at Villanova.

On top of being a professional athlete, which involves complete dedication to practicing and playing basketball year round, he must deal with the demands of the media, the NBA, and his team. Somewhere in all of this he finds the time to act as Chairman of the Board and CEO of The Randy Foye Foundation and also have personal interactions with the same kids he is helping.

Christina Vuocolo, Vice President of The Randy Foye Foundation and a graduate of the Villanova School of Business, stresses the direct work that Randy does with the children of Newark.

“Randy stays in touch with the kids while he is in Minnesota for the season. Through emails, videos, and occasional trips home for games or on breaks, they stay in contact with their role model.” she said.

For example, in December several honor roll students got the chance to be on the court with the Timberwolves when they played the New Jersey Nets. They also get to closely follow Foye’s career through the Assists 4 Life program.

Assists 4 Life is a program within The Randy Foye Foundation where Foye has pledged to donate a certain amount to Newark’s Dr. E. Alma Flagg School at the end of the school year. The total amount will be based on his assist totals for the current NBA season. In order to get the kids involved, they track Foye’s stats after each game and keep the running total for the season.

Vuocolo and the students use Foye as their prime example of what they should all strive to be.

“We study his behavior both on and off the court – how he works as a leader and teammate; how he serves the community in Minnesota through team outreach efforts; how he cares for his own family.”

“There are so many kids in Newark growing up in the same situation that Randy did, and they feel helpless like there is no way out and definitely no chance of succeeding,” Vuocolo said. “Having come to know many of them over the past year and a half, it breaks my heart because they are good kids with big dreams. Many of them just need to know that someone cares about them, and that they can succeed.”

Besides providing the opportunity for some students to go to one of Foye’s basketball games, the foundation sponsored dances and fundraisers that the student’s organized, provided incentives for afterschool programs, and are funding end-of-year projects and trips.

The next big event for The Randy Foye Foundation is taking place in an arena familiar to Foye – the Wachovia Center.

When the Timberwolves come to Philadelphia to play the 76ers, fans will have the chance to purchase tickets at face value through the Randy Foye Foundation. Any tickets bought this way will have a portion of the proceeds go straight to the foundation.

The tickets also include a pre-game meet and greet with Randy in the arena, with opportunities for pictures and autographs with the former Villanova star.

“It is so special to have so many extensions of the Villanova family supporting Randy’s foundation in different places.” said Vuocolo.

“We encounter Villanovans everyday who are eager to support Randy’s mission and that is one of the greatest things about our alma mater.”