Adom Appiah, the founder of Ball4Good – a non-profit which addresses social issues through sports, was the recipient of the Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award at the 2021 Sports Humanitarian Awards organised by ESPN.
The seventh annual ESPN Sports Humanitarian Awards was held on July 12, 2021, at The Rooftop at Pier 17, located within the Seaport in New York City. The event was hosted by actor and author Taye Diggs.
The Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award celebrates and honours youth who are using the power of sport as a catalyst for change and making a positive impact on society.
At the age of 12, Adom Appiah started a school project to improve the Spartanburg, South Carolina community, as it faces systemic issues including health disparities, racial inequities and lack of support for after-school programs.
The project propelled Adom to launch his nonprofit, Ball4Good, which uses the power of sports to address social issues in his Spartanburg.
Since its inception, Adom has raised over $100,000 to support 20 local nonprofits, and he has organised local events and food drives, while also supporting Martin Luther King, Jr. Day basketball camps.
He mostly raises funds by organising charity basketball games involving local community leaders, as well as college and professional athletes.
Athletes who have participated in his charity games include, Zion Williamson of the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans, former NFL player Landon Cohen, retired WNBA all-star Andrea Stinson and former Michigan State University basketball player Anthony Ianni, the first athlete known to have autism to play Division I basketball.
In addition to fundraising, Adom’s goal for Ball4Good is to encourage kids to support their community by volunteering and providing grants for organisations addressing local issues, all through the power of sports.
Adom has created a committed youth group and involves them in making impactful decisions for their community, as they help select grant recipients and provide younger kids with volunteer opportunities.
When the global pandemic presented countless, unforeseen obstacles, Adom and his team quickly adapted to engage remotely with their community, and raised over $20,000 to support organisations impacted by COVID-19.
Aside from organising charity events, Adom twice participated in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. He finished 41st in 2017 and was eliminated before the semifinal round in 2018.
He has also written children’s books, including one titled Bouncing Back From Failure, which he wrote in part from his experience at his second national spelling bee. He also wrote Kids Can Change the World: Young Readers’ Edition and Kids Can Change The World: A Middle Schooler’s Guide For Turning Passion Into Progress, to inspire youth to follow their passions.
Adom is also a recipient of the Gloria Barron for Young Heroes Award and the State Honoree of The Prudential Spirit of Community Award in 2019.
In May 2021, he received the Jefferson Book Award from the University of Virginia for best representing the Jeffersonian ideals of scholarship, leadership and citizenship; and the International Youth Philanthropist of the Year Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).
Before heading to college in 2022, Appiah hopes to raise an additional $100,000 to sustain Ball4Good’s future.
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