My name is Dagmawi Haile-Leul. I transferred to Seattle Pacific University as a junior, and will graduate in 2013. But even before I came to SPU, I began working to address youth violence in Seattle.
Six years ago, I began an annual basketball tournament ― Hoops 4 Hope ― to gather youth from all parts of town. By using athletics, Hoops 4 Hope raises awareness about gun violence with the help of guest speakers, an eight-team basketball tournament, father/son and mother/daughter sports, and dance crews. It's fun with a serious purpose.
In August 2012, speakers include Tali Hairston, director of the John Perkins Center at SPU, KUBE 93 radio personality Eddie Francis, Larry Gossett, council chair and councilman for King County’s second district, and many others. Young people have opportunities to be involved in something negative; this tournament gives them an open door to something positive.
My inspiration was personal. My cousin, Yonas, was a victim of gun violence when a stray bullet fired during a drive-by shooting changed his life forever. Now, over the past four years, we have raised over $20,000 for victims of gun violence. We have even created a scholarship foundation for under-represented teens who wish to pursue higher education. Hoops 4 Hope works to keep kids from becoming victims.
I transferred to Seattle Pacific from Xavier University because I fell in the love with the vision "Engaging the culture, and changing the world." Although I’m a Global Development major, I took the business class “Social Venture Planning,” and had the honor to work with Dr. Don Summers, an SPU executive in residence. He truly inspired me to see that class as an opportunity to create a professional plan to carry out in real life. Through countless late nights working on it, and with Dr. Summers’ reviews and revisions, I am finally proud to present our work to SPU, to Seattle, and to the world.
Dr. Summers passed away in March 2012, but he sparked a flame in me for passionate service. He shared his wealth of experience and had a willingness to form a relationship in a classroom setting. I will never forget him or his legacy. As a first generation Ethiopian-American, I see the potential for a blend of cultures being engaged and the world being changed.
On August 18, 2012, we expect up to 1,000 guests on hand to support this cause. This will be our first year at SPU and with Dr. Summers watching from heaven, along with 25 victims of gun violence already this year in Seattle, we are dedicated to making them proud!