Jimmer Camp

Jimmer's cross-over move: Getting into charity with family

2012-08-12T20:30:00Z 2013-04-04T14:06:18Z Jimmer's cross-over move: Getting into charity with familyJason Franchuk - Daily Herald Daily Herald
August 12, 2012 8:30 pm  • 
Kay Fredette took a final stroll around the back of the banquet room, before the guests arrived, providing a mother's touch to make sure everything was just right.
She couldn't help but stop and reminisce Friday night at the sight of a gray T-shirt that was laid on one of the silent-auction tables. She picked it up, admired, stretched it and placed it back on the table. Memories flooded over her about Jimmer Fredette's senior year.
This particular one was her son's memento from the John R. Wooden Award, the last end-of-season ceremony for Fredette to attend at the end of his trophy-filled BYU career, wrapped up in early April of 2011.
"Oh, I hate to see this one go," Kay Fredette said with a wistful smile about that Los Angeles memory.
Reminded the valuable cotton would be going to a good cause, now mom was more than happy to see it signed. Hopefully soon to be granted a new owner after a lucrative bid.
Fredette and his relatives held the second Fredette Family Foundation dinner, copying the one from late June in their native upstate New York hometown of Glens Falls. The auction and dinner were all a part of getting in the charity game, the goal after a 14-month organization.
Fredette's family will be the first to concede that Jimmer-mania isn't quite what it once was, as he morphed from a unique collegiate superstar to a high NBA draft pick and then a struggling rookie.
But the group holds out plenty of optimism that his name and platform can provide plenty of good in philanthropic circles.
This is early in the first quarter. But Jimmer and his family are coming out shooting.
"We have a platform now to be able to help people, because of Jimmer," older brother T.J. Fredette said before the dinner, which registered 150 attendees who paid $75 for a three-hour rendezvous at Zions Bank in downtown Provo that included music from Mindy Gledhill and a 20-minute question-and-answer segment with the star of the night.
"This is legit. We'll do our research," T.J. Fredette added, noting that his entire family is involved at the ground level — doing everything from setting up tables to name cards and handing out tax receipts — to be effective.
Besides selling Jimmer's name as a reason to be involved, the family touted an all-encompassing belief that this project can be big and helpful to a variety of struggling people.
The dinner in Glens Falls raised nearly $10,000 and the follow-up in Provo was expected to garner around that much.  (FFF officials did not provide an update to the Daily Herald as of Sunday night.)
Blair Giles, a BYU graduate, has been hired as president of the foundation. He has a background in marketing and sports-related agency. Octagon recruited Giles to help bring Fredette into the fold as an Octagon client during Fredette’s senior year at BYU. He has stayed close to the family.
Giles moved his own family with five children in the middle of last winter from Washington D.C. to become the full-time caretaker of FFF. Provo will be the hub, where he’s excited at the chance to make a living out of giving.
He's also been associated with the foundation of Andy Roddick, a tennis player who started his charitable endeavors in 2001 at 19 years old. Giles tells the story that tennis legend Andre Agassi encouraged Roddick to start these types of deeds sooner, rather than later. That's been the aim for Fredette, too.
Along with Giles' leap of faith there's that of Fredette's sister, Lindsay, who has left her elementary-school teaching job in Salt Lake County to work on the foundation in a similar capacity. She went Friday night from being in duds to get the party ready; to getting spiffed up in a black dress, just in time for the actual dinner.
Besides the full-court press by himself and the Fredette family, Giles bragged about Fredette being so popular — and influential locals being so willing to help — that it has even enlisted respected nonprofit-law attorney Bruce Olson as a pro bono advisor.
The dinner included the support of other well heeled local names, like Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, BYU president Cecil O. Samuelson, athletic director Tom Holmoe and former BYU AD Val Hale, who now is president of the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce. Also, the mayors of Provo and Orem were there to hear about the non-profit venture that Giles said has been granted tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status.
"Families helping families" is the focal point.
"We thought that we could start something that would be very powerful, because we have power in the people that we know — and who we have met," said Al Fredette, Jimmer's father. "So that's what we're talking about...a little bit of the vision that we have."
It appears that Jimmer isn't satisfied to sign some basketballs and donate them to make a difference in lives. Though that's happened, and worked. His dad told a story of a small Vietnam veterans group that raised about $5,000 recently to raffle off such a souvenir in Whitehall, N.Y. It took a day-and-a-half, $2 at a time, in a town of less than 5,000 citizens, Al said. That revelation drew some amazed gasps from the dinner crowd.
The NBA player also has heard stories from his father about small, noble gestures that have been done as part of the FFF to enrich peoples' lives near where they live. A stairway railing fixed, or a car part refurbished. Small gestures that can have big impact.
The Fredettes are unified in saying those tasks are just the start.
"We really believe that giving is the best thing you can do for yourself, and for others," Al Fredette said.
Jimmer is trying to do all of this while still living a hectic life: Trying to fine-tune his game for a hopefully stronger second NBA season in Sacramento. Just married. Recently purchased a house in Denver, where Whitney hails from. Whitney will also be part of the foundation's maintenance.
Though the exact model of how to assist is far from set, aside from every speaker at the dinner noting that the goal would be to discover lesser known charities that could use assistance.
How much aid would be provided in the form of money, and how much would include service from the group itself, or its supporters, remained fairly vague at the dinner.
Last week's three-day camp at XSI Factory in Lehi with Fredette's name was used in part to help raise funds for Giles' salary as foundation leader, Giles said. There were more than 300 youth who paid about $200 to participate. It will be a necessity to have full-time enlisted help, he said, considering the scope of the plan.
It's all part of growing the foundation. Giles points out that the Fredette family's lives have been dedicated to "kindness and service."
At the fundraiser, Al Fredette said:
"There is so much good that can be done. And you don't have to spend a ton of money. Although we're not discouraging you," he said, eliciting laughter from the crowd. "Because it does take some to spread throughout the world. But we do believe that we have a great message. ...we have a tremendous power and we can influence a lot of lives, in a way that needs to be influenced."
On a follow-up interview Saturday, Giles said he was pleased with the proceedings. There were already a few kind notes emailed to him, plus a dentist offering his services. And another professional offering to help with the foundation's website.
"I think generally...people got the message. As far as what our purpose was, and what we were trying to do; what we’re all about," Giles said.
Giles wholly understood the skepticism that can come with an NBA player's attempt to be so charitable. The issues tend not to be about crookedness, but rather insufficient management.
In 2008, the Salt Lake Tribune studied 89 stand-alone NBA-player charities.
Together, according to an Associated Press summary, the charities reported revenue of at least $31 million between 2005 and 2007. But only about 44 cents of every dollar raised — or just $14 million — actually reached needy causes, far below the 65 cents most philanthropic groups view as acceptable.
"You're always having to give credibility and justify, when it's a sports celebrity, because people are skeptical," Susan Johnson, director of former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo's foundation, was quoted as saying in the Tribune investigation.
The Fredettes believe that the hiring of Giles is a step in the right direction. They praised him often at the dinner. According to the Tribune's study, many problems arose because athletes entrusted outmatched family members or former associates into positions of power.
Fredette, still trying to find his niche in the NBA, seems to feel that way as well about this journey.
"I would like to be able to help a lot," he told the crowd after being asked point-blank at the dinner about how he intends to envision the FFF impact. "Donating basketballs and stuff is one thing to raise money. But going out and giving service to people, and actually helping families, is another.
"Once we get ourselves more situated, I'll be able to have time and...summertime and everything...and help out with these charities," he added.
Fredette followed up with why he's so interested.
"It's more important to me to do these types of things than to be a great basketball player...this is what it's all about. This is what people will remember you for."
Giles said the Fredettes want FFF to grow in a prudent way, so the foundation may start slow.
He points out that a Fredette fan donated an ornate, purple vase made in Russia. The person told Giles it could fetch around $7,000 at the dinner.
But there was no documentation about the rather hefty piece. So, despite sitting next to those T-shirts, jerseys and shorts, it would not be on the auction block at this time.
"We would rather do things right as a family," Giles said. "That's the most important thing right now."

Fredette Family Foundation Contact:***********801-919-0007

********Jason Franchuk can be reached at jfranchuk@heraldextra.com. Follow him on Twitter, @harkthefranchuk

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