5K race supports former Davidson player’s hometown
by Staff Writer
Andrew Lovedale is a big man with an even bigger heart.
At 6-foot-8, the Nigerian was recruited to play forward on the Davidson College basketball team in 2005, fresh out of the Manchester, England high school he had attended for the past four years. Aided by an athletic scholarship, he graduated from Davidson in 2009 with a degree in political science.
Now a professional basketball player for various teams throughout Europe, he hasn’t forgotten about the city in which he was raised nor the small North Carolina town where he spent his college career.
While Lovedale was in college, he spearheaded a drive called “Kicks from ‘Cats” to collect and donate new and used shoes to the children in his hometown of Benin City, Nigeria. Although the experience garnered national attention and support, Lovedale felt like there was so much more he could be doing.
“For me, you give a kid a pair of shoes, and in a couple of months those shoes would wear out,” he said. “But what happens after that? We wanted to be more of a consistent feature in the lives of these kids.”
Lovedale is a witness to how access to adequate resources can make a world of difference in a young person’s life.
“As a kid from Africa, I’ve seen the best of both sides,” Lovedale said. “I was born in an average and decent home where we actually got a good education. Then we lost my dad and things took a different turn. Going from having enough to having nothing, my mom had to give up a lot just so we could go to school.”
With that memory in mind, Lovedale set out to create his faith-based nonprofit, Access to Success. Though the foundation is based in Davidson, the funds serve his hometown by running after-school programs, supporting a free school, giving out scholarships, helping schools remodel, donating athletic and educational supplies and running a youth basketball camp.
“I’m a living testimony that there are three things that made me successful today – and that’s having a balance between academics and sports, and also having the fear of God,” Lovedale said. “That’s how we came about Access to Success, where we use education, sports and faith as vehicles for social change to help motivate kids and try to direct them to paths that lead to success.”
On Sept. 1, Access to Success will host the second annual Andrew Lovedale 5K race at the Davidson College Cross Country Trail.
“Our organization started in 2010, and we have a pretty good base of private donors,” co-founder Lauren Biggers said. “But I thought we needed another big, public fundraiser. The 5K, in particular, just goes along with our sports aspect.”
In 2009, Biggers, who also serves as the race director, traveled to Nigeria with Lovedale and another co-founder, Morgan Clark, and had the opportunity to see the community that Access to Success would eventually serve. The race is helping them to serve better.
A 5K after-party that evening at Brickhouse Tavern will feature celebrity bartenders, including NBA player and Davidson alum Stephen Curry. The first 200 runners from the race will get a free drink at the party.
“It was really successful last year,” Biggers said, reflecting on the $10,000 the 5K raised in 2011. He hopes to raise $15,000 this year.
For more information on Access to Success or to participate in the upcoming race event, visit a2sfoundation.org.