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Susan Jaye-Kaplan to be Honored at Service Above Self Luncheon

SPRINGFIELD — The Basketball Hall of Fame and the Rotary Club of Springfield have announced the honorees for the seventh annual Basketball Hall of Fame / Springfield Rotary Service Above Self Luncheon: local honoree Susan Jaye-Kaplan and national honoree Spencer Haywood.

The event will be held at the Basketball Hall of Fame’s Center Court on Friday, Nov. 18 at noon. Since 2010, these annual awards have highlighted some of the remarkable individuals in the local community and the larger family of basketball who live out the motto of Rotary International, “Service Above Self.”

Locally, there are few individuals more engaged in their community than Jaye-Kaplan, the founder of Pioneer Valley Women’s Running Club, founder of Go FIT Inc., and co-founder of Link to Libraries Inc., organization whose mission is to collect and distribute books to public elementary schools and nonprofit organizations in Western Mass. and Connecticut. She is also the co-founder of Women’s Leadership Network as well as an advisory board member and fund-raiser for Square One.

Jaye-Kaplan has received one of the nation’s Daily Point of Light Awards, the President’s Citation Award at Western New England College, the Elms College Step Forward/Step Ahead Woman of Vision Award, the Reminder Publications Hometown Hero Award, the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women Unsung Heroines Award, the New England Patriot’s International Charitable Foundation Community MVP Award (the only person to receive this award twice), the Girl Scouts of Pioneer Valley Women of Distinction Award, and the Pynchon Award for Community Service. She was also chosen one of BusinessWest magazine’s Difference Makers in 2009.

Haywood had a truly historic basketball career, scoring more than 17,000 points and grabbing nearly 8,700 rebounds in the NBA and ABA. He won a gold medal with the 1968 U.S. Olympic team in Mexico City and had his number retired by the Seattle Supersonics. Haywood is best remembered, however, for his landmark Supreme Court case which allowed players to enter the NBA on a hardship basis, forever changing the face of the professional game.

A gifted speaker noted for his countless hours of community service and outreach, Haywood has followed his election to the Hall of Fame in 2015 with national appearances on behalf of the Hall speaking to thousands of young people about overcoming obstacles, facing life challenges, and dealing positively with life issues. From migrant working families in Immokalee, Fla. to urban teens in Phoenix, Ariz. to an appearance at Springfield’s Commerce High, he brings his generous spirit, honesty, and sincerity to audiences both young and old. From his childhood in a cotton field in Mississippi to the heights of basketball success, his story transcends the traditional sports pages with a message of hope while living the creed of “Service Above Self.”

The luncheon will once again serve as precursor to a basketball event in downtown Springfield. On Sunday, Nov. 27, the MassMutual Center plays host to an action-packed day of college basketball when eight top Division 1 women’s teams compete in the 2016 Women’s Holiday Showcase. Louisville (third-ranked nationally) will meet second-ranked South Carolina in the day’s featured matchup at 1 p.m.

Tickets and sponsorship opportunities for the luncheon are still available. Individual tickets cost $60. For more information on sponsorships or to purchase tickets, contact Paul Lambert at the Basketball Hall of Fame at (413) 231-5502 or [email protected].

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