BY JAKE GONZALEZ
FOR THE OBSERVER
Auburn men’s basketball head coach Bruce Pearl and his daughter Jacqui Pearl, who is the executive director for the nonprofit The Koinonia Foundation, have partnered with Down Syndrome Alabama to bring the Hoops for Hope camp to Neville Arena. The camp is for individuals 12 and older who have Down syndrome and will be hosted by the Auburn basketball program on Friday, July 29.
“It’s about showing these kids and adults with Down syndrome a good time through basketball,” Jacqui said. “It really gives the players and coaches an opportunity to interact with a community they wouldn’t normally be able to. I’m really excited.”
The camp participants will be able to run drills with the Tiger players and be able to even play a little basketball with them, according to the flyer that Down Syndrome of Alabama released on July 6.
This event began back in 2007 when Bruce was the head coach at Tennessee. This is the first time that the Pearls have done the camp since Bruce left Knoxville and took the head coaching job on the Plains.
“This guy, David Sexton and his son, had this idea of doing a basketball camp for kids with Down syndrome,” Jacqui said. “They had this idea and contacted the Tennessee basketball program and it kind of started from there. A couple of years back they contacted me to see if we wanted to start it back up at Auburn.”
The Pearls originally planned to start this back up right before the start of the COVID pandemic, but the virus shut down the camp and everything else.
The camp will be free for participants, and registration is on a first-come-first serve basis with members of Down Syndrome Alabama being able to register first. Registration for the event can be made on Down Syndrome Alabama’s website, www.downsyndromealabama.org/inspire_events/hoops-for-hope/, as well as more information about the Pearls and the event.
The camp is open for the public to come and watch as the participants play some basketball with members of Auburn men’s basketball team.