- Associated Press - Sunday, February 23, 2014

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) - He’s got high hopes.

Christian Gray, a 9-year-old Edmond Doyle Elementary student at McAlester Public Schools, has hopes of someday filling the shoes of Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka - literally.

Gray hopes to grow into a pair of size 17 sneakers previously worn by Ibaka, who stands 6 feet, 10 inches tall.

Gray and the rest of his family, including his sisters Shelby Love Gray and Gabrielle Gray, are now the proud owners of Ibaka’s sneakers, won at a drawing during half-time of a Stuart Hornets basketball game held at the Stuart school gymnasium. His mom, Dana Gray, bought the winning ticket.

It all came about because of a fundraiser held by those who work with a program at Stuart Public Schools called Backpacks for Kids. Those who held the fund-raiser hoped to raise money for the Oklahoma City food bank that assists with the program.

“We are supplied with food that goes into the backpacks through the Oklahoma City Regional Foodbank,” Ronda Talley told the McAlester News-Capital (https://bit.ly/1hav5Ie ).

Talley, a community volunteer who works as coordinator for the Backpack for Kids program at SPS, wanted to do something for the regional food bank that does so much for them. Sara Bain takes care of the school part of the program, while Talley said her own efforts include fund-raisers.

“Our kids benefit from somebody’s generosity,” Talley said. “Our program wanted to do something to help the foodbank.

Talley hoped to do something through the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“I know the Thunder does quite a bit for the food bank on its own,” she said.

Talley said she spoke with District 18 state Rep. Donnie Condit, D-McAlester, who got in touch with the Thunder.

“I think it’s great because Stuart receives donations from the Oklahoma City food bank,” Condit said.

He said his son, Chris Condit, works part-time for the Thunder. McAlester native Wilson Taylor also works for the Thunder.

“With them I was able to get the sneakers,” Donnie Condit said.

With tickets for the drawing sold at $5 each, the fund-raiser proved successful.

“We raised $1,250,” Talley said.

As for young Christian Gray, he’s serious about his hopes of someday wearing Ibaka’s sneakers.

To make sure he’s ready, he’s already trying them on - and he doesn’t let the fact that he’s got a way to go before they’re a snug fit affect his enthusiasm.


Information from: McAlester News-Capital, https://www.mcalesternews.com

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