Youth Sports

Teen combines love of basketball, music for innovative community service project

Ahava Greenbaum (right) and her mom, Susanne Reiter, at their “Wheels & Waves” wheelchair basketball fundraiser event.
Ahava Greenbaum (right) and her mom, Susanne Reiter, at their “Wheels & Waves” wheelchair basketball fundraiser event. Courtesy of Susanne Reiter

There are not many 13-year-olds who can say that they have completed more than 600 community service hours in one year.

But Ahava Greenbaum has found a way to combine her love for basketball with her interest in giving back to the community.

Ahava plays basketball on her school team at Hochberg Preparatory and for the Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center.

Her school coach, Andy Degen, describes her as a leader on and off the court, and one of the best players he has coached in more than 20 years.

“My daughter is very humble, but she’s always extending herself to just about anybody,” said Susanne Shoshana Reiter, Ahava’s mother. “You don’t have to ask her. If somebody needs help, she just volunteers it.”

Last year, Ahava, with the help of her mother, conceived a service-based project called Points 4 Love, in which she and her JCC teammates volunteer community service hours based on the number of points that the Miami Heat score during their season.

The latest step in this project is a music video, which will debut on YouTube next month and will double as a fundraising tool. Reiter wrote the song Points 4 Love-Stand 4 Love with Jeremie Phenom Thomas for the video.

“I want to see it go far so that everyone knows about it,” Ahava said. “It could be a big project that a lot of people participate in and we could raise more money to go to other funds besides the ones we are already giving to.”

The video will feature singer Thomas, 25, a wheelchair basketball player for the Miami Heat Wheels team. Ahava and Reiter met Thomas when they co-coordinated an event with Special Olympics Florida at the JCC called Wheels & Waves. The event, which combined a swim competition for kids with special needs with a wheelchair basketball tournament, raised money for various causes.

The video shows 7-year-old cancer survivor Miriam Goldsmith roll onto a basketball court in a wheelchair and sit on the sidelines watching the JCC girls play, discouraged by her limitations. The other players then encourage Miriam to take a shot and celebrate when she scores.

At the end, there are links to the charities that Ahava and her mother promote, including ones for Miriam’s recovery and medical fees, and the Miami Heat Wheels basketball team so that they can buy parts and pay travel expenses.

Other causes include ALS and the Marc Sutton Player for Life Fund, which provides disadvantaged kids with scholarships so that they can continue to play sports. Ahava received this scholarship in 2013, and wants to give back to the charity that provided her with the opportunity to play basketball.

“If other kids get inspired by the video, then it will call them to become bigger in the world and create projects that make a difference in their communities,” Reiter said.

Aside from her charitable acts, Ahava’s dream is to meet the Miami Heat players and sit courtside at one of their games. She wants to play basketball in high school and possibly in college, where she would like to study to become a sports or entertainment lawyer.

Follow @kathdevaney on Twitter.

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