POCATELLO (KIDK/KXPI) - Hoop Camp is an organization that helps those who may have special needs, feel like they are an athlete for a day, but it goes beyond that. It helps with their motor skills and self-esteem.
"I've been wanting to do this for awhile," said Hayes Garrity. He is a senior guard for the Idaho State University basketball team.
"It used to start as kind of a thing of doing service, but now it's become a thing where we do it to hang out with our friends," said Garrity.
Basketball is in his blood. His father, Steve Garrity, played for ISU in the late 80s. After playing ball overseas and trying out with the Portland Trailblazers, he founded Hoop Camp in 1994.
Hoop Camp offers a day of basketball for individuals with special needs, whether it be autism, fetal alcohol syndrome, Down syndrome, Asperger's syndrome, cerebral palsy, or even blindness. Garrity said no kid is too low functioning to attend camp.
"The special needs community is highly underserved, especially once they graduate high school. There's just not a lot out there for them. Where do they fit in? How do they get jobs?" said Garrity.
It's more than just a basketball camp for those ages 6 and up.
"The kids that are higher functioning always tend to help the ones that are lower functioning," said Garrity.
They've had NBA players come help with camp and sign autographs and take pictures with the kids. Garrity said it's fun and he looks forward to it every year. Plus, this is the first time Hoop Camp has been offered in southeastern Idaho.
After a lengthy game of HORSE, it's time to Pay It Forward.
"It makes you feel good to feel important you know. And to feel like there's people out there that you can make a difference in their lives," said Garrity.
"Hayes, how are you?" said a man walking across the basketball court and interrupting the interview.
"Good, how are you doing?" said Garrity.
"Good. I'm Kory with Mountain America Credit Union," said Kory Carling.
"Hey, very good to see you," said Garrity.
"We've heard about what you've done in the community," said Carling.
"OK," said Garrity, a bit confused.
"And all your camp and the service that you've provided," added Carling.
"Uh huh," said Garrity.
"And so we're here today to pay it forward. And so I've brought with me today, $500 in cash," said Carling.
"Wow!" said Garrity.
"That I know you can put toward good use," said Carling.
"Yes. For sure!" said Garrity.
"And to continue your camp and your cause for our community," said Carling.
"Wow, thank you so much," said Garrity.
"So on behalf of Mountain America Credit Union, this is for you and your organization," said Carling, handing over the cash.
"Oh my gosh. Thank you!" said Garrity.
"Thank you for all you do," said Carling.
"Kory, (I) appreciate it man. Thank you so much! That's awesome!" said Garrity, giving Carling a hug.
"You betcha," said Carling.
"Oh my gosh. This is going to be great. This will help go towards kids that can't pay their way. A lot of these athletes are on disability or a 401(k) check each month and a lot of them can't afford the $30 fee for camp. So this will go to good use. I appreciate it. Thank you very much man. That's awesome," said Garrity.
If you have a camper that could benefit from Hoop Camp, the number to sign-up is 503-750-9982. You can call or text. Or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hoop Camp will be held Sat., Oct. 7, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the new Mountain View Event Center or MEC in Pocatello. The cost is $30 per camper. It includes a camp ball, t-shirt and lunch. Financial waivers are available.
"Pay It Forward" airs the second Wednesday of every month. If you know of a nonprofit organization or someone who deserves to be recognized for their contributions to the area, click on "Pay It Forward" on the right side of our website and fill out the form, or send an email to KIDK Eyewitness News 3 anchor Todd Kunz at email@example.com.