Dwane Casey is proving to be a game changer both on and off a National Basketball Association court.
It was Casey as the head coach who set the table for the Toronto Raptors’ run to an NBA title last spring and now he’s charged with resurrecting the Detroit Pistons to glory.
Landing an NBA head coach as a guest speaker for a new initiative by the Amherstburg Freedom Museum is certainly quite a coup.
“That’s the whole idea of having a high profile speaker series,” said AFM president Monty Logan. “It’s about starting a dialogue around oppression and intolerance and what strategies they used to deal with that and become successful. They have overcome and they are achievers.”
The Freedom Achievers Program will debut with Casey Saturday, Oct. 12 at the Libro Centre. The event runs from 11 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.
The program will not only feature Casey talking about his personal experiences of overcoming obstacles and dealing with racism and intolerance but it will also launch a new mentorship opportunity for visible minority youth.
“We’re so blessed Dwane Casey is coming to talk about his amazing career and life,” said Lorene Bridgen-Lennie, the museum’s assistant curator. “We’re really hoping the students see this example of success and encourage them to reach for success as well.”
Casey is speaking free of charge as a favour to Richard Peddie, the president of the Amherstburg Community Foundation.
The AFM is one of four fundraising initiatives being undertaken by the ACF with the shared goal of making Amherstburg a better place to live.
The museum is hoping to raise $39,000 to fund a speaker series over the next year. Bridgen-Lennie said they are almost half way to reaching their total.
As the former President and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Peddie got to know Casey in Toronto and recognized him as the perfect kickoff speaker.
“He grew up in Kentucky in the ‘60s,” Peddie said. “He went to Japan to coach, imagine what that was like for a young black man. He’s been in Minnesota, Dallas, Seattle and then he came to Canada. This man has seen the varying degrees of bad things that manifest themselves in different countries.”
Casey worked in a coal mine and on a tobacco farm over the summers while he was playing basketball for the University of Kentucky.
In the late 80s, he went to Japan to further his coaching career.
The Freedom Achievers Program will include time for mentors and mentees to interact.
“We are actively seeking mentors now,” Bridgen-Lennie said. “We’re seeking professionals who have created a successful life for themselves in terms of career choices.”
The museum is looking for 30 mentors to work with at least 30 visible minority mentees.
“We want to make sure the youth of Essex County have what they need to be successful,” Bridgen-Lennie said.
Mentees can come from anywhere across the Windsor-Essex region and are ideally already enrolled in post secondary education.
Anyone interested in being a mentor or a mentee can call the museum at 519-736-5433.
Tickets to hear Casey speak are $10 for adults, $5 for students. Admission is free for registered mentors and mentees.
Seating is limited. Tickets are available through Eventbrite.