In the spirit of otagai-sama — helping each other mutually — the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Kazuo Masuda Post 3670 Youth Club sponsored a Basketball Extravaganza to help with the tremendous relief needs from the recent catastrophic events in Japan.
The extravaganza was held May 21 to 22 and drew over 500 basketball players to support the effort, both in the giving of their fees to the cause and in raising awareness through the camaraderie of competitive basketball. The majority of participants were youth ranging from third grade to high school. Men’s and women’s teams also participated.
The event was held at three gyms in Orange County, and participants came from all over both Los Angeles and Orange counties.
VFW Post 3670 Youth Group Vice President and Basketball Extravaganza Chairman Allen Goya says the idea for this started after watching the devastating images in Japan with his daughter and wife, Gayle. His 22-year-old daughter, Jodie, who grew up playing basketball with VFW, came up with the idea of a basketball benefit. The family became convinced that they must do something to help and determined to make this event a reality.
In five short weeks, many donors gave generously to the cause, including major donors Sansei Legacy, Union Bank, and American Fish. Many other organizations such as OCO (Orange County Optimists) donated their gym time, and the referees (KT Referees) and scorekeepers (Janice Jinkawa and others) donated their time as well. Also, many volunteers from within the VFW organization as well as other organizations willingly offered their time and talents.
The core group of the Basketball Extravaganza Committee put in countless hours in such a short period of time to make this event a huge success. The extravaganza raised over $16,000, exceeding the committee’s expectations. It is planned to donate the funds to local organizations that will use 100 percent of it toward relief efforts.
OCO and Yonsei Basketball player Jonathan Sawada, 16, summed up the event by saying, “It’s a fine day when you can play basketball, hang out with friends, and do some real good for hurting people.”
The VFW Basketball Extravaganza Committee is grateful for the otagai-sama spirit the event brought out both within the local community to help those devastated communities in Japan.