Miami Beach

Miami Heat stars join South Beach school’s push for security grant

 

cveiga@MiamiHerald.com

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and a host of Miami Heat players have joined the push to help a South Beach elementary school win a competition to land a $200,000 grant to improve security on campus.

The basketball stars — along with James Jones, Udonis Haslem and Mario Chalmers — all tweeted in support of South Pointe Elementary School Wednesday night.

The public school is in a nationwide competition to clinch a major grant funded by the private company Stanley Security. People can vote online or by text for their preferred school, and the school with the most votes wins the grand prize. Three runners-up will win $100,000.

It’s crunch time now, because voting ends Friday.

Before the Heat pitched in, South Pointe was in third place Wednesday. Because of the way the votes are counted, the school won’t know how much the star power helped them move in the rankings, according to a South Pointe parent involved in the contest.

Other celebs have joined the cause. Ryan Seacrest and Gloria Estefan and even the guy known for dressing up in a banana costume at Heat games have all chipped in to boost South Pointe’s rank in the competition.

“We are getting Miami behind us,” said Faiza Liban, whose two daughters attend South Pointe.

Liban is part of a core group of parents wearing bright yellow T-shirts who have canvassed Miami Beach to round up votes for the school. They’ve walked up and down Lincoln Road until 11:30 p.m., stood outside the local Publix and even hosted voting parties at school, opening up the media center computers and offering refreshments for parents to come in a vote.

“We have given, as parents, everything to this contest,” Liban said. “If Miami could give us that extra push, it would be amazing.”

Liban credited new Miami beach mayor Philip Levine with helping to attract the celebrity attention. Levine, a wealthy, self-made millionaire, is known to hang out with a famous crowd.

“We want to get to number one,” said parent Faiza Liban. “We’re a public school with real needs.”

Using his connections, Levine got Seacrest, a celebrity personality perhaps best known for hosting the singing competition American Idol, to tweet his support of South Pointe to more than 12 million followers. He also enlisted Jones of the Miami Heat.

Singer and Miami Beach resident Gloria Estefan joined the cause, tweeting multiple times on behalf of the school.

Even the man who dresses up in a banana costume for the Heat games pitched in, holding up a sign encouraging people to text their votes for South Pointe, landing him on camera for a full minute, Liban said.

About 1,000 schools were nominated for the contest, according to a spokesman for Stanley. At one point, South Pointe was ranked in the 30s, but the school has managed to stay in the top five throughout December.

“If nothing else happens, its great to see that the community has come together for our children,” said South Pointe Principal Melanie Fishman.

As of Wednesday, South Pointe had enough votes to land one of the coveted grants. The prize would be the biggest grant South Pointe has received in at least the past 17 years, Fishman said.

To vote, visit http://www.stanleysaferschools.com or text “South Pointe Elementary School” to 99222.

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