Westbrook Surprises Oklahoma City Mother With Car

With her two young boys bopping along right at her heels, 19-year old Kerstin Gonzales raced into the offices at Sunbeam Family Services on Monday, stopping by for a meeting.

After sitting and waiting with her boys for a few minutes, she suddenly sensed a figure stroll behind her chair, and as two large hands tapped her on the shoulder, Gonzales turned around to see Russell Westbrook’s signature wide grin. The initial shock of seeing a Thunder player didn’t last long, because as the Thunder point guard introduced himself, he told Gonzales that he had a surprise for her – a brand new car. At first, Gonzales was skeptical, but as soon as Westbrook pulled the keys out of his pocket, she broke into tears.

“Are they playing a prank on me or something?” Gonzales said of her initial reaction. “When he showed me the keys, I was like ‘this is real’. That’s when I started to cry because it’s been such a hard time.”

“There were definitely tears of joy and I could tell some tears of hard work and all the different things she’s been through in her life,” Westbrook said. “Today was a stepping stone in showing her that everything is going to be alright.”

Gonzales and her two boys, four-year-old Matthew and two-year-old Adam, have had a rough go of things lately. The single mother was just 14 when she got pregnant, as she said, “just a child” when she all of the sudden was forced to be an adult. Gonzales has been the recipient of Sunbeam Family Services assistance for some time now, and has utilize the extra time and what she saves on diapers and other childcare needs by putting herself in a position to graduate from high school this year, work a job and to apply for colleges, where she wants to study forensic science.

Her current car was not in great driving shape and on Monday morning, the engine wouldn’t start. She has been borrowing cars from family and friends to be able to get to work, to get to school and to pick up her sons. To all of the sudden have that burden of worrying about transportation at all times be lifted was a huge weight off her shoulders.

“It’s so touching and so amazing knowing that there are people out there willing to help the ones that are in need,” Gonzales said.

“She has such a good heart,” said Erin Engelke, Sunbeam’s Chief External Relations Officer. “She’s so worthy and so humble. She did not see this coming. We had orchestrated it so that it could be a true surprise and it was for her.”

After Westbrook showed Gonzales the keys to the car, he ushered her and her boys outside to see it. The KIA SUV was actually the car given to Westbrook when he won the Most Valuable Player award for the 2015 All-Star Game in New York City. When he received it, he aimed to find a recipient in the Oklahoma City community that truly needed it. Through the help of the Thunder and Sunbeam, Westbrook found Gonzales, and the planning to surprise her commenced.

“It’s just all the hard work that she’s done to be able to keep her family together,” Westbrook said as to why Gonzales was the perfect person to receive the car. “When you see somebody working hard towards a goal and finding ways every day to keep everything afloat for her two boys and her family, you can’t do anything but help them out.”

Gonzales continued to cry tears of joy, but pulled it together enough to thank Erin Engelke, who helped orchestrate the surprise, along with all of the other employees on hand from Sunbeam who provide services for her and her boys on a regular basis. Sunbeam has been serving the Oklahoma City community for over 100 years, providing assistance to the city’s most vulnerable citizens in early childhood, foster care, counseling and senior services.

“It’s just so wonderful,” Gonzales said. “Sunbeam has helped me so much. It’s crazy because they’ve always been there for me. They’ve always been able to reach out a hand.”

“It means so much to all of us at Sunbeam to be able to give above and being for our clients,” Engelke said. “For her to have one less thing to worry about, by way of a car, is huge.”

The final hug before Gonzales left with her boys was for Westbrook, who won the NBA Cares Community Assist Award for the month of October and has been extremely active in the community through his Why Not? Foundation. All afternoon, Westbrook played and joked with the young boys Matthew and Adam, while comforting Gonzales, whose emotions got the best of her on a few occasions as she tried to wrap her mind around what was happening. For Gonzales, Westbrook’s surprise was life-changing. That’s the type of impact Westbrook wants to bring to as many people as possible in Oklahoma and he’s doing it one person at a time, one day at a time.

“He was a gentleman,” Gonzales said of Westbrook. “He was amazing, he was sweet and so attentive to what I had to say. He’s a really awesome person.”

“I was so touched by the way that he interacted with her,” Engelke said. “He was so gentle, calm and warm. I was completely blown away. He’s a remarkable individual.”

To read more, please go to http://www.nba.com/thunder/community/westbrookcar_150406

Russell Westbrook Receives October NBA Cares Community Assist Award

Russell Westbrook Receives October NBA Cares Community Assist Award

Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook received the October NBA Cares Community Assist Award in recognition of his charitable efforts to improve child literacy, the NBA announced today.  The award honors an NBA player each month who best reflects the passion that the league and its players have for giving back to their communities.

In both Oklahoma City and his hometown Los Angeles, Westbrook continues his work to enhance literacy programs.  Last month, Westbrook and the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation opened a new reading center at North Highland Elementary in Oklahoma City.  The facility, named Russell’s Reading Room, was stocked with 1,200 books for all ages, designed to ensure every student is inspired to find something they love to read.  In addition, 450 students at North Highland received a book of their own to take home.

Westbrook formed his foundation in 2012 with the goal of inspiring the lives of children, empowering them to ask “why not?” when faced with rejection and adversity.  The foundation works to help children facing hardships of any kind, giving particular support to community-based education and family service programs.  Westbrook plans to open two additional reading centers in the coming months as his foundation increases its focus on literacy.

“I have been very blessed in my life and believe it is my job to give back to the communities that have given me so much,” said Westbrook.  “I want to provide kids with the guidance and tools to find success, and that starts with literacy and education.  By improving access to books and encouraging children to read, we can help them thrive throughout their educational careers.”

During Sunday’s home game against the Houston Rockets, Westbrook will be presented with the David Robinson Plaque during an oncourt ceremony.  In addition, the NBA will donate $10,000 on Westbrook’s behalf to the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation.

In addition to the monthly NBA Cares Community Assist Awards, the league will present a final 2014-15 Seasonlong Community Assist Award.

To learn more, please log on to http://www.nba.com/cares/.

Russell Westbrook’s Big-Hearted Play!

Russell Westbrook’s Big-Hearted Play!

Reading Room 1Basketball fans know Russell Westbrook for his fierce moves on the court as a point guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Besides his flashy style on and off the court, this sports superstar likes to score one for the kids.

Healthy Hollywood loves to discover successful people who never forget to be grateful and are always willing to give back. After all, a generous, kind-heart benefits all of us.

As I learned yesterday from a publicist friend, Russell is one of those guys. The basketball star created The Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting community-based education and family service programs. While, also, encouraging young people to believe in themselves.

This week, as part of his push to help young kids get educated, he opened up his first Russell Reading room at an elementary school in his Oklahoma community. He gave each of the 450 kids a book to jumpstart their reading and challenged the kids to get reading.

“I believe education is the simplest and most direct path towards a better life, so I want to not only motivate these kids to read and get involved in their education, but also to provide them with tools necessary to successfully meet my challenge,” explain Westbrook.

Russell’s Reading Challenge is part of Scholastic’s national Read 100,000 which encourages kids to read and log 100,000 minutes. Russell challenged over 75,000 students of the 147 metro Oklahoma City school to start reading.

Continue Reading…(via Access Hollywood)

Russell Westbrook Kicks Off WHY NOT? Foundation With Thanksgiving Dinner

Russell Westbrook Kicks Off WHY NOT? Foundation With Thanksgiving Dinner

Tis the season! Russell Westbrook launched his Why Not? Foundation by hosting 2 simultaneous Thanksgiving Dinners to give back to underprivileged families. The event included Westbrook-autographed raffle prizes and turkey giveaways. Simultaneously Westbrook’s parents and brother returned to Russell’s childhood recreation park where he learned to play football and basketball to present a “First Annual Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation Thanksgiving dinner” serving over 400 disadvantaged people in the South Central Los Angeles Community he grew up in:

Continue Reading… (Beyondthebuzzer.com)

Russell Westbrook pulls off his greatest assist of the year

Russell Westbrook pulls off his greatest assist of the year

The holiday season usually brings out the best in people, and it’s a time when some athletes like to give back to their communities. Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook did just that over the weekend, hosting a Christmas party for local children living in foster care.

Westbrook’s Why Not? Foundation joined forces with Citizens Caring for Children to spread some holiday cheer by giving the kids backpacks full of gifts along with Jordan brand shoes, according to theybf.com. Citizens Caring for Children provides clothing, shoes, books and other necessities to children in state custody throughout the year.

More than 10,800 kids are in Oklahoma’s foster care system, and Westbrook said giving back to the community that supports him is what the holidays are all about.

“More and more children are placed into foster care each year, and to be in a position to bring the joy of Christmas to some of these kids is truly a blessing,” he said. “I am in a unique position to be able to give back to a community that has been so supportive of me and help children in need.”

Continue Reading… (via FoxSports)

Russell Westbrook Grants Christmas Wishes

Russell Westbrook Grants Christmas Wishes

Russell Westbrook played Santa Claus on Saturday when he and his Why Not? Foundation teamed up with Citizens Caring for Children to bring 86 kids in foster care a Christmas party they’ll never forget. Check the photos above and press release details below for more:

“As part of his Why Not? Foundation , NBA star Russell Westbrook teamed up for a second consecutive year with Citizens Caring for Children to host a Christmas party for Oklahoma City children living in foster care. Citizens Caring for Children (CCC) is an Oklahoma City-based nonprofit organization that provides clothing, shoes, books, school supplies, mentors and other necessities to children who have been victims of either abuse or neglect and are now living in state custody. Through the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation, Westbrook, joined by his parents Shannon and Russell Senior and his younger brother Raynard, sent each of the children home with backpacks filled with gifts, as well as new shoes provided by the Jordan Brand.”

Thunder Star Westbrook Hosts 2nd Annual ‘Why Not Foundation’ Christmas Party

Thunder Star Westbrook Hosts 2nd Annual ‘Why Not Foundation’ Christmas Party

OKLAHOMA CITY –

The Thunder’s Russell Westbrook made a slam dunk with some kids living in foster care.

His “Why Not Foundation” and Citizens Caring for Children hosted their annual Christmas party. They handed out gifts to 85 children in need. Each child received a backpack filled with gifts and a new pair of shoes.

“I definitely see my face in their face as they walk up and get there presents…It’s a great feeling,” said Westbrook.

This is the second year Russell Westbrook’s Why Not Foundation has hosted the event.

Continue Reading… (via News9.com)

The fans show us so much support throughout the years I’ve been here. It’s also great to do things like this with kids and different families to come out and bowl with us. – Russell Westbrook

The Oklahoma City Thunder this week joined point guard Russell Westbrook and children from the Boys & Girls Club of Oklahoma County at a bowling alley for a fundraiser for Westbrook’s Why Not? Foundation.

Russell Westbrook presents the Why Not? Foundation Celebrity Bowl benefitting the Boys and Girls Club of Oklahoma County