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Volume 23 No. 18
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Embiid assists ‘real-life superheroes’

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid made a donation of $500,000 to #FirstRespondersFirst to provide personal protective equipment to hospitals in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania.

Embiid, a three-time All-Star, did research before making his donation to the partnership of CAA Foundation, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Thrive Global. Embiid offered his thoughts to Sports Business Journal via email about giving aid to health care workers battling COVID-19. 

Have you been involved in charitable efforts before this? What is your history in philanthropy? 

EMBIID: So far, my biggest efforts have been in Cameroon and Philadelphia, the two places I call home. My very first initiatives were focused on my Arthur Embiid & Angels Foundation, inspired by the memory of my brother Arthur, and established to protect and unite disadvantaged children in Cameroon. We wanted to partner with a well-established organization in Cameroon and did so with UNICEF to help children in need. I’ve since also worked with my incredible partner Under Armour as it relates to efforts in Philly, including a court refurbishment in my brother Arthur’s name at the Boys & Girls Club of Philadelphia.

Photo: nbae / getty images
Photo: nbae / getty images
Photo: nbae / getty images

Why did you give such a large amount of money to this effort?

EMBIID: When the NBA put the season on hold, I literally couldn’t believe it. If something could shut down the NBA, then I really needed to understand it. As I am lucky to be in a position to help, I immediately wanted to know how best I could help. As the virus continues to spread, the biggest thing to me was how to better prepare those who are putting their lives on the line for us. There are so many ways to contribute but two critical pieces in all of this have emerged for me: getting equipment and medical supplies and supporting antibody testing for Philadelphia doctors, nurses, and other providers. I learned that #FirstRespondersFirst could get PPE directly to front-line health care workers in Pennsylvania, and serving my community was extremely important to me. I also donated to Penn Medicine to help implement blood tests that measure antibodies to determine who has been exposed to the virus and who is likely immune. Sending PPE kits and funding antibody testing will ultimately allow us to protect health care workers on the front lines in real time.

Do you have a personal connection to this crisis or to medical or health care workers?

EMBIID: I think everyone feels a personal connection to health care workers now. These doctors and nurses are on the front line of this crisis, risking their own safety every single day to protect us. They are real-life superheroes, but we can’t forget that they aren’t superhuman. They need all the support, equipment and resources we can give them so they are in a position to best help fight back. In big ways or small, I think all of us feel compelled to help them in any way we can.

What research did you do before making your donation?

EMBIID: I have a great team that carefully vets every opportunity so that I am in the strongest position to drive measurable impact. I am surrounded by amazing people that share my commitment to making a difference. With this donation, I was looking to make the biggest impact I could, and #FirstRespondersFirst was able to provide the resources to this workforce they so desperately need as they serve on the front lines of this war against COVID-19.  

To be honest, I just worry about everyone. From here in Philly to my hometown Yaoundé in Cameroon; it’s a tough time around the world. I’m so grateful I can do my small part, and hope it inspires others to do whatever they can.