In 2008, Oklahoma City changed forever when the NBA came in the form of the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder has impacted this city in numerous ways, beginning with city expansion and renovation, and bringing unity among the Oklahoma community. Most importantly, it has provided hope for many young children that dream of becoming successful in their future.
2012 was a very special year for this young basketball team. They overcame a lot of the pressure associated with being a young team and became one of the two teams that deserved a spot in the 2012 NBA Finals. In the final moments of game five in the series between the Oklahoma City Thunder vs. San Antonio Spurs, the city held its' breath while the Thunder made several last minute winning shots.
Every year each of the two teams that make it to the NBA Finals selects a community project to highlight during the Finals. The staff of City Rescue Mission were ecstatic when the Thunder prevailed over the Spurs, because the Mission was chosen to be the Thunder's cause for the NBA Cares Project. The following day the Mission started receiving phone calls and designs for the new Oklahoma City Thunder Learn and Play Center. This center included brand new HP touchscreen computers, several furniture pieces, a library filled with creative books, bright and energized décor with freshly painted walls, and an 80 inch flat screen TV for families to enjoy.
The heart beat of this event centered around the impoverished children of the city. Children, ages 8-14, gathered in the newly renovated, Thunder inspired gymnasium for an energetic press conference. Media outlets from all across the country came to capture these moments of honor. Many people came to this event including Thunder basketball players, parents of players, the coach of the Thunder, Scott Brooks. Ahmad Rashad, former NFL player of the Minnesota Vikings, welcomed those in attendance. The NBA Commissioner, David Stern, spoke inspiring words to the audience about the vision behind the NBA Cares Project. One of the Thunder players, Derek Fisher, spoke with a heart of gratitude towards City Rescue Mission and the Oklahoma City Thunder fans. He expressed his appreciation for the Mission's goal of ending homelessness and helping those in need.
Pastor Tom Jones spoke with conviction while explaining the transformation Oklahoma City has seen since the arrival of the Thunder. In the last year City Rescue Mission supplied 167,000 beds and over 312,000 meals to the Oklahoma City homeless and near homeless community. “This event was filled with enthusiasm towards the progress that this city has experienced since the Thunder! The impact that they have made by teaming with City Rescue Mission is monumental,” Rev. Tom Jones, President & CEO of City Rescue Mission. “I am so proud and humbled by the partnership with the Thunder and the NBA Cares Program. Together we may be able to change the destinies of children by making their futures brighter by the hope that is presented here now.”