KB Thomas and Ayo Amoo are a power team. The Howard alumni from the class of 2014 have built a philanthropic establishment with a nine-year track record as of this year. Hoop For All Foundation’s mission is to make health and financial resources accessible to D.C. community members and to spread awareness about different types of diseases — the foundation is changing lives.
Hoop For All hosted their ninth annual tournament Saturday at the Banneker basketball court with a special focus on cervical cancer.
On this particularly sunny day, nearly one hundred people gathered at the court, some sitting in chairs and others dribbling in jerseys, to support Hoop For All’s cause and to watch teams ball out.
Music booming and players shooting, Thomas and Amoo held microphones close to their lips as they sauntered around the court. The two oscillated between entertaining the crowd with playful banter over the speaker and speaking with staffers, event organizers and referees to coordinate the start of the event.
Toddlers played tag on the grass beside the court, and grandparents sipped on soda cans and polished their popsicles.
It was hot, but attendees nonetheless were happy to be there. Shanice London, Howard University class of 2016, has attended the tournament for nine consecutive years. She became more involved with the organization as the years progressed.
“I started as a volunteer, and now I’m working as an operations coordinator working closely with Ayo and KB,” London said.
“It’s really just a great cause,” she said. “I’ve always tried to figure out how you could tie in sports and community activities, and this is a really good example of that.”
Stefan Walker is a high school senior who played on one of the 3-man teams.
“I love knowing that I’m doing something good for the community by spreading awareness about cancer,” Walker said.
He also noted how familial the organization and the event’s attendees are, “It’s a family vibe out here; Ayo and KB — how we’re pretty much like family and I’m only in high school.”
The Hoop For All’s mission even strikes sentimental chords with some of the tournament’s referees. One of the referees, Laney, said, “My mother has [cancer].” Laney expressed his gratitude and appreciation for being able to be a part of such a special cause.
Most in attendance were animated to be there, but some don’t know the story behind Hoop For All.
Thomas and Amoo started the foundation during the summer of their sophomore year at Howard. “We really saw a lack in the community,” said Amoo. After seeing little to no community activity going on at the Banneker basketball courts, “[KB and I] decided to put an event on.”
KB thought that if the two were to put on an event for the community, it would have to have a bigger cause, a larger purpose.
“We started brainstorming issues that are affecting not only us but the DC community, and breast cancer was that number one issue,” Amoo recalled.
Thomas explained why cancer was chosen as the focus, “Ayo and I have both been affected by cancer,” she said. “We have had family members who have had cancer prior to us starting the foundation and starting Hoop for All, but since then [we’ve] also lost family members to cancer… it has always hit close to home for us.”
Hoop For All Foundation’s first annual basketball tournament was focused on breast cancer awareness, and since then, it has been targeting other types of cancer.
The organization has provided many resources to the DC community including blood pressure tests, heart rate testing, STIs and COVID-19 testing. Zoom workout sessions are also made available to community members via the organization, and back to school supplies are given out to the youth.
All of Hoop For All’s resources are given out for free.
During their Howard years, both Thomas and Amoo appeared on The Hilltop’s cover four years in a row in recognition of their work regarding Hoop For All. Their organization, in partnership with their graduating class, helped raise over $12,000 for those in need, and they were able to give out eight scholarships to Howard students.