Young athletes developed their talents and enlarged their hearts this week at former BYU all-star Travis Hansen’s charity basketball camp at the Flash Factory in Lehi.
Unlike most youth basketball camps, Hansen did not merely instruct the boys on the proper techniques of basketball stardom. The purpose of Hansen’s camp is to not only inspire the athletic hero, but to inspire the hero within.
Hansen is CEO and founder of the Little Heroes Foundation. The foundation got its roots four years ago when Hansen and his wife lived in Moscow. They were the parents of a boy and were hoping to have another child soon. When the Hansens encountered fertility problems, they started looking into adoption.
Hansen said the more acquainted he became with the adoption process, the more he realized the system was broken.
“Our eyes were opened to heart-wrenching situations,” Hansen said. “So we decided that we just wanted to do our drop in the bucket to help.”
This experience inspired Hansen to start giving back. The Little Heroes Foundation’s first major project was a baby hospital renovation in Lyubertsy, Russia. When Hansen and his wife returned home to Utah, a news report ran about the program’s accomplishments in Russia. Corporate sponsors began to call, and what started as a small effort to give back soon grew into a successful nonprofit organization.
“It’s crazy,” Hansen said. “It’s like it was meant to be. We never imagined that it would turn into a full-fledged nonprofit organization.”
As part of the organization’s fundraising efforts to improve the lives of children, it hosts an annual sports camp. Distinguished volunteer coaches interact with youth on the court, helping them understand the fundamentals of basketball, teamwork and leadership. All proceeds go to kids and improving children’s lives around the world.
This year, BYU forward Brandon Davies participated in the program. He said the program gives participants a chance to not only make new friends and interact with coaches, but to serve others as well.
“I think it’s great,” Davies said. “I wish I could do more personally, but what Travis has done here is great, especially with the service projects we do. Having the kids be involved in the service at such a young age helps them become more aware of the people in need.”
In addition to developing their basketball skills, participants were given the opportunity to participate in a service project to benefit the Nebo School District. The camp put together school supply kits including donations of backpacks, pens, pencils, notebooks and other school supplies. The school kits were distributed to needy children in the Nebo School District.
Lisa Dalley’s two sons participated in this year’s camp. Her sons have come every year, and she especially enjoys the positive impact of Hansen and other coaches on the youth.
“I like the instruction, that they’re all good guys,” Dalley said. “They’re just admirable coaches, admirable people that are doing good things. Travis is a great role model, not just a self-centered athlete that you watch on TV all of the time.”
The Little Heroes Foundation was organized with the credo of “inspire the hero within.”
Self-sacrifice has become part of Hansen’s life doctrine for the past four years. He hopes to continue expanding his foundation to enrich the lives of children everywhere.
“I hope to be an influence for good to continue to do the drop in the bucket like we’ve envisioned from the beginning,” Hansen said.