As many Knoxvillians seek a tangible way to respond to recent gun violence in the community, one prominent individual is offering a quick way to help: coach Rick Barnes is asking Vol fans and fans of Emerald Youth Foundation to simply go online and vote.
In partnership with ESPN.com, Infiniti has launched an online, bracket-style voting challenge where 48 high-profile NCAA basketball coaches were given the opportunity to select a “charity of choice” for which to compete. University of Tennessee men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes was invited by the National Association of Basketball Coaches to participate and selected Emerald Youth Foundation as the beneficiary.
Emerald Youth Foundation made the initial cut from the top 48 coaches to the top 24, and is now asking the community for help to make it to the sweet 16. Round two voting runs through Feb. 14 at 11:59 a.m.
"Emerald Youth Foundation is doing incredible work for children here in the Knoxville area," Barnes, who serves on the foundation's board of trustees, said. "They're not only helping our kids academically and in their health, but they're also helping them grow deeper in their faith and relationships. So this is a cause and an organization that Candy and I are passionate about."
As online votes are cast, coaches move to the next round and can win anywhere from $1,000 for just participating to $100,000, which Infiniti will give to the winning coach for the nonprofit organization of their choice. Infiniti is an official corporate partner of the NCAA, and locally, Harper Infiniti, 9737 Kingston Pike, is supporting the competition.
“We’re so grateful to Coach Barnes for selecting and representing Emerald during this competition,” said Steve Diggs, president and CEO of Emerald Youth Foundation. “But we need help from all of the Vol Nation to advance to the next round. The money given to Emerald Youth through this effort will help address some of the critical gaps in serving our city’s young people.”
To help, individuals need an ESPN.com username and password (signing up is free), and then votes can be cast once per day per email address at www.espn.com/infiniti.
Emerald Youth Foundation serves more than 2,000 children, teens and young adults each year in the heart of Knoxville through faith, learning and sports programs. Learn more at www.emeraldyouth.org, @emeraldyouth on Twitter and Instagram, and on www.facebook.com/emeraldyouth.