Wichita State University basketball made the Final Four again.
The Shockers’ Gregg Marshall presented a $15,000 check Tuesday to the Wichita Children’s Home, a check he won as one of four finalists in the Infiniti Coaches’ Charity Challenge. Forty-eight college basketball coaches participated in the challenge and competed for votes to win money for their selected charities.
The Children’s Home, founded in 1888 as the city’s first orphanage, offers emergency, temporary residential care for homeless children and children who may be at risk in their homes due to abuse and neglect.
The $15,000 will go toward the home’s general operations, including the immediate clothing and feeding of children when they arrive at the home for the first time, said Janet Pack, the home’s director of development.
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Staff members help the children get the education and develop the skills they need to live independently, often helping children become the first in their families to graduate from high school, said Barbara Ray, chairwoman of the Children’s Home board. In addition to the funding, Marshall helped raise awareness of what the charity does for children in the community, she said.
“That is what I love most about the Children’s Home, that we do so much for the children,” Ray said. “The coach and his wife are so supportive of the home and the kids.
“They’re just good people.”
Marshall has a personal connection to homes that take care of children. He said his mother was in the Connie Maxwell Children’s Home in Greenwood, S.C., when she was a child.
“She did really well in ensuring that my life was better than hers, and I’m just trying to repay that to others,” Marshall said.
“This is a great charity. All of these kids grew up in challenging conditions, but they deserve a chance to succeed and fulfill their dreams. My message is that you can, and will, overcome.”
After Marshall handed the giant check to Pack, he sat down to greet each child and sign autographs. Dozens of children lined up to meet him.
Teresa Buchanan, a 12-year staff member at the Children’s Home, said that Marshall has brought the team to play basketball and hang out with the children. The coach and his players are role models the children can look up to, she said, encouraging them to make the right choices.
“I think the kids feel connected to Coach Marshall and the Shockers,” Buchanan said. “The coach is very proud to talk about his involvement with the Children’s Home, and the kids are very proud to talk about what he does for them.
“We feel like he’s one of us.”