The stars showed up for the 2nd Annual Up2Us Gala in New York City on Wednesday (May 14) including supermodel and TV host Heidi Klum rocking a stunning leopard-print skirt and corn rows. Klum was joined on the red carpet by an eclectic mix of supporters that included Sandra Bernhard and Kyle Maclachlan along with athletes Sarah Hughes, Prince Amukamara, John Henson, Curtis Martin and Kim Vandenberg. Others on hand at the event, which took place at the Mercedes-Benz flagship showroom in Manhattan, included Gretchen Mol (Boardwalk Empire) , Kiera Chaplain and New Orleans Saints owner Rita Benson who proudly flashed her Superbowl ring.
Up2Us, a New York based not-for-profit organization that utilizes sports to change the trajectory of inner-city and underserved youth, is only four years old but have already trained and placed more than 1700 coaches nationwide, reaching over 133,000 children.
“Today’s youth, especially those living in some of our most underserved communities, face many challenges. They live in a world that expects a lot from them but doesn’t always give them the tools and support they need to be able to make the right decisions. That’s why the work we do is so important.” said Paul Caccamo, founder and president of Up2Us.
After the red carpet, guests ascended to the second floor of the showroom for a fab dinner and the presentation of several awards. The highlight of the evening was this year’s Coach Across America Coach of the Year honoree – Israel Frank, a young man I have the pleasure of knowing from Los Angeles. Israel, who is one of the coaches funded by Up2Us, works with the Brotherhood Crusade in South LA providing life skills to some of the nation’s most vulnerable youth.
I’ve seen Israel coach at the 52nd Street Elementary school and the kids flock to him like the Pied Piper. The lanky 20 year-old, who was once homeless himself, knows how to relate to his young charges and identify with their struggles. The kids trust him – to not only teach ball handling but also how to deal with personal problems on the playground and at home. Israel may not have known who Heidi Klum was standing beside him on the red carpet – but he knows all about the pint-sized kids who look up to him on a daily basis.
Congrats to Israel on his Up2Us honor. Stay tuned for a short inspirational film about his great work with Up2Us.