Debi White knows having Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari speak at a Telford YMCA fundraising dinner June 15 in Richmond is a huge bonus for her organization. However, since she’s also a self-proclaimed UK¿basketball fan, she admits the fan in her is even more thrilled he’s coming than she is as chief executive of the YMCA.
“I¿am excited as chief executive of the Y and as a UK¿fan and I¿know I should probably say I am more excited for the Y, but it is both and probably really is more of the UK¿fan in me,” said White, who has already bought a new blue dress to wear that night. “My office is covered in blue and old UK¿posters. I am from Maysville, so having Darius Miller playing for UK¿just makes it even better.
“Darius and his parents are great people. I¿have the cutest picture still when he was in the eighth grade and played in the state tourney final in 2004. He was so little. He’s grown up so much and that has just added to my UK¿experience.”
White quickly admits she had little to do with persuading Calipari to come to Richmond.
“Basically, we knew the right people. We have a member of our Y and somebody that is pretty prominent in our community and her son works for UK. He has a connection. Before I came here they had (former UK¿coach Rick) Pitino here twice,” White said. “I would like to take credit, but I can’t.
“I¿have not even been here two years yet. I was in Ohio for 10 years and it’s so nice to be back in Wildcat country where people understand what you are talking about when it comes to basketball. There was way too much red (for Ohio State) up there for me.¿I like blue a lot better.”
Tickets for the dinner are $125 each and can be purchased by calling 859-623-9356. There are only 320 tickets to sell.
“I have a friend in Memphis and he wants to come, so we are getting calls from all over but we still have tickets,” she said. “It is amazing he is coming. The idea of actually getting to meet him after all he’s done for Kentucky basketball the last years is overwhelming. The fact he would give up his time to come here is amazing to me, too.
“I know what his schedule must be like with people pulling him from every direction to come speak. This says a lot about our organization and just how much he cares about kids and what the YMCA does.”
Most of the money raised from Calipari’s appearance will be used for the YMCA’s PACE program (Providing Assistance and Christian Enrichment), White said.
She’s not sure exactly what Calipari might do other than speak, but she anticipates him mingling with those at the dinner.
“It was obvious that (former coach) Billy Gillispie never got it at Kentucky. Calipari does and has from day one,” White said. “I remember when he was first hired and I went on Twitter to follow him, something I¿had never done. I was in love with him before we ever started playing games. I think everybody felt the same way about him and what he’s doing for us shows just how caring he is.
“I don’t know when he ever rests. His energy, I wish I¿had a little of it. But we are thrilled he’s coming to help us and I can’t wait to tell him just how much I not only appreciate him coming, but also appreciate all he’s done for Kentucky basketball.”