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UMass Basketball, Jessica’s Boundless Playground Host Clinic

BELCHERTOWN, Mass. (WGGB) — UMass men’s and women’s basketball paired up to join Jessica’s Boundless Playground in hosting a clinic at Belchertown High School on Monday.

The event raised funds in the building of a playground and to bring awareness to Rett syndrome, a degenerative neurological disease that took the life of Jessica Martins in 2009 at the young age of 19.

The current goal is to raise a total of $200,000 this summer. The community will begin structuring the playground on September 13 near the Chestnut Hill Community School in Belchertown.

For head coach Derek Kellogg, it was an event he had all the interest in taking part in.

“I think to give all kids an opportunity, or all people an opportunity, to get out on the playground to have a chance to get out there and work in a structured, kind of free environment is something we wanted to be a part of,” Kellogg said.

Vicky Martins Auffrey, Jessica’s mother and the president of the charity, is thankful for the outreach Kellogg, the teams and the community provided.

“It just gives us incredible validity and as soon as we met [Kellogg] on that very first day he was ‘how can I help?’ So we’re so, so appreciative,” Martins Auffrey said.

Of the many players in attendance was guard Derrick Gordon who since coming out as gay back on April 9 has found himself in a whirlwind of opportunities to share his story all across the country.

Gordon is grateful knowing that he has impacted so many lives all across the globe.

“Just to be able to hear that from people that’s international is that much more of a blessing because, honestly, things could’ve been much worse but it wasn’t any worse at all,” Gordon said,”Everything that has happened since April 9 has been all positive and there really hasn’t been no negative.”

You can learn more about the project at TeamJessicaOnline.com.

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