Hugh Leahy of Lewes received the 2014 Blue-Gold All-Star Basketball Games Community Service Award during the event's banquet held March 13 at Dover Downs.
Leahy was recognized for his service to the Wilmington community and the state of Delaware during his many years as executive vice president with Wilmington Trust and as senior vice president of the Delaware Community Foundation in charge of the Sussex County division.
“Hugh cares about our state and our community,” said Larry Kimmel, chairman of the Blue-Gold Basketball All-Star Games. He made the presentation before a banquet room filled with 550 basketball players, family, friends and supporters of the Best Buddies Delaware program.
“There's no I in team and no I in award,” said Leahy in accepting the award. “Best Buddies Delaware is a great organization helping so many people, and I'm honored to be associated with them.”
Leahy said during his years in Wilmington he worked with a number of community organizations, most notably the Christiana Cultural Arts Center, which promoted the arts in downtown Wilmington, involving many young people. He also did extensive work for Reading Assist, which is a program that focuses on helping people overcome dyslexia problems to become better readers.
Wayne Holden, a board member for the Delaware Community Foundation who attended the banquet, said Leahy was always a cool and calm professional for the foundation, which assists dozens of charitable initiatives in Sussex and Delaware. “He was the perfect manager for the many Sussex County endowment funds that benefitted from his expertise,” said Holden.
Best Buddies is a nonprofit organization with the mission of integrating children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities into their schools and communities through peer mentoring, leadership training and friendship programs.
Morton R. Kimmel of Wilmington founded the Blue-Gold Delaware High School All-Star Basketball Games 15 years ago. “Previously there were the North-South All-Star games. The boys' all-star game was played in Wilmington and the girls' game at either Cape or Milford. But the biggest problem was they were played in June. My son had just completed a 1,500-point career at Tower Hill and was named to the team. When he told me he would rather go with us on a family vacation than play in the game, I knew there was a problem.”
Kimmel worked with then-University of Delaware basketball coach Mike Brey to get the games scheduled for the Newark campus and moved to March when basketball fever is still high. Now the event not only provides a premier venue for Delaware's high school basketball players, but also raises between $100,000 and $150,000 each year for the Best Buddies organization. Kimmel said the all-star games draw more than 100 college coaches looking for talent, which results in scholarship offers. “I didn't realize at the time we started that this would help these kids get to college,” said Kimmel. “It helps disabled children and student athletes. That's a pretty good deal.”