One of the biggest men in NBA and philanthropy has died. Manute Bol, whose 7 foot 6 inch frame was a domineering sight in basketball games in America since 1985, passed away last week after a battle with a skin disease.
Manute Bol was born in the Sudan, and has spent much of his post-basketball career involved in causes relating to the war-torn country. One of his favorite charities was the Alliance for the Lost Boys of Sudan, an all-volunteer 501C-3 foundation that assists with the health and educational needs of Lost Boys/Girls. To date, the Alliance has assisted over 50 Lost Boys and Sudanese refugees with college tuition and books and has provided life changing surgeries and medical treatment for numerous Lost Boys and their families, both in the US and Africa. They support numerous projects in Southern Sudan, such as the building of hospitals, schools and orphanages. In addition to educating Lost Boys and Sudanese refugees in the US and Sudan, Alliance president Joan Hecht and local Lost Boys speak at schools and organizations around the US in an effort to educate the American public on the atrocities occurring in Southern Sudan and Darfur.
Currently, there are 135 Lost Boys living in Jacksonville, Florida, which is home to the Alliance For The Lost Boys. Founder and President of the Alliance, Joan Hecht, recently wrote a book, “The Journey of the Lost Boys”, which tells the story of the thousands of boys who fled refugee camps in Ethiopia. It also illustrates the incredible compassion of NBA legend and humanitarian, Manute Bol.
As told by one of the Lost Boys to Joan Hecht: “We were starving, many of us were dying from the lack of food, water and medicine or attacks by enemy soldiers and wild animals. One day, a famous athlete from America came to visit our camp. His name was Manute Bol, and he had been born and raised in Southern Sudan. When he saw us he bowed his head and cried for a really long time. He was very sad to see us that way.”
Before leaving, Manute promised to return to help the young children, vowing to tell the world about their suffering and that of his people. A short time later, helicopters appeared in the sky, and landed inside their camp. It was Manute Bol, making good on his promise, bringing food and medicine for the children and reporters to tell their story.
For more information, or to purchase a copy of the book, visit www.allianceforthelostboys.com.