EUGENE, Ore. -- Close to 500 kids got to sit inside Matthew Knight Arena Saturday to watch the Oregon men’s basketball team take on Nebraska, and it’s all thanks to the generosity of the community.
Matt Prehm, a 247Sports writer, started a GoFundMe project to send local kids from the Boys & Girls Club and youth basketball teams to a free game just in time for the holidays.
“It’s just an opportunity for kids to do something they don’t normally get to do or they’ve never done before,” Prehm said.
Prehm covers Oregon athletics for a living, and he wanted to use this project to say thank you to everyone that helped his family the past year after they were in a life-threatening car crash.
The crash left Prehm’s son with life-threatening injuries, but after months of recovery, he is doing well.
“That was the most difficult part of my life that I’ve ever gone through,” Prehm said. “My child was very close to death and probably should have died. And seeing people that I have no idea who they are, it’s moving.
With the help of the community, Prehm was able to raise $4,000 in a little over a week. And many people in the athletic department said he’s been nothing short of an inspiration.
“I think he was very touched by how people rallied around him and his family with what was obviously a very difficult situation, and I think that really had an impact with him,” said Jimmy Stanton, the senior associate athletic director for communications.
But Prehm said he couldn’t have done this alone.
“There’s a lot of people that donated to this,” he said. “It’s not just me. I’m just the platform to get the money and spread the money and get the money to help these kids out.”
The young fans cheered on the Ducks all night, helping them take the win (84-61), something head coach Dana Altman said they’ll never forget.
“I remember when I was young -- the opportunity to go to a college basketball game, and I would get so fired up I couldn’t sleep the night before, and after the game I couldn’t sleep because I was so fired up about going to the game,” Altman said.
Prehm said the way this all came together shows there’s still a lot of good in the world.
“When you bare everything down, we’re still people,” he said. “We still care for each other, and that’s what a community is supposed to dow hen someone’s down -- pick the other person up and help them.”
Prehm said he wants to do this again next year, and he wants to thank the community for coming together to make the holidays a little brighter for so many kids.
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