MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. - The Shamoya McKenzie Foundation is set to host its inaugural fundraising gala to celebrate the memory of the 13-year-old girls basketball star, who was shot and killed in Mount Vernon on New Year’s Eve.
The gala is scheduled to be held from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 15 at Eastwood Manor on Eastchester Road in the Bronx, including a cocktail hour, dinner, music, dancing and an open bar for the $100 cost of admission.
In their first event since founding the foundation over the summer, officials are hopeful of raising money to fulfill the organization’s mission of engaging the youth of different communities in physical and educational activities and workshops that aid the awareness and prevention of gun violence.
“The Foundation will give inner city youth the tools needed to reach their ultimate goals,” Israel Williams, the co-founder of the Shamoya McKenzie Foundation said. “It will also help in setting up check points to make sure they are aligned with those goals. It will also provide resources to support students.”
Earlier this year, Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas and Schools Superintendent dedicated a Graham Elementary School park to the slain teenager, who was allegedly gunned down by 22-year-old David Hardy, who is facing a second-degree murder charge.
At approximately 2:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, McKenzie was a passenger in the car when she was struck in the head by a stray bullet that was allegedly intended for another man involved in gang activity. McKenzie was transported to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead. A second victim was also struck in the shooting, suffering non-life threatening injuries.
A star for both the Mount Vernon Junior Knights, Lady Elites and the High School JV Lady Knights, McKenzie had dreams of attending the University of Connecticut to play under coach Geno Auriemma before making her way to the WNBA.
Thomas said that Hardy was a seasonal employee for the city, and his position was terminated in December after he failed to show up for his assignment. He was hired by a former administrator, who is no longer working for the city.
The gala will also include a presentation thanking the many who have supported Shamoya’s family and friends after the tragedy, including the New York Liberty, the Garden of Dreams Foundation, Madison Square Garden, the outstanding community members, Mount Vernon’s first responders, the Mount Vernon girls junior varsity basketball team and Graham Elementary students and staff, among others.
“We simply wanted to show our appreciation for the outpouring of support given to Shamoya’s family and friends in what has been a very difficult time,” Williams added.
“The Foundation is about helping people reproduce the same qualities that Shamoya had. Shamoya was a spiritually grounded young lady. She had a strong faith and a great family,” he continued. “Academically, she strived for greatness. When her lowest grade was a ‘B’ in Spanish, she wanted a tutor because she knew she could do better. She was a leader on the court, in her family and in the classroom. These are all qualities that she embodied and displayed at such an early age and we want those qualities to be developed in the youth in Mount Vernon.”
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