MoCo leaders and residents turn out to help those hurt in Puerto Rico

IMG 2883Congressman Jamie Raskin (D) takes on a local grade schooler in a chess competition held during a local basketball game fundraiser for Hurricane Maria relief to victims in Puerto Rico. PHOTO BY BRANDY SIMMS  BETHESDA – The Montgomery County community came together Saturday at Thomas W. Pyle Middle School to attend a local celebrity basketball game and fundraiser to provide Hurricane Maria relief for victims in Puerto Rico.

Congressman Jamie Raskin (D), Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner (D), State Sen. William C. Smith Jr. (D-20), State Sen. Susan Lee (D-16), Del. Marc Korman (D-16), and County Council at Large candidate Will Jawando (D) were some of the community leaders in attendance.

Officers Greg Davis and Sarah Federico from the Montgomery County Police Department participated in the basketball game. The fundraiser also included appearances by local celebrities such as rapper Moe Vision, actor DJ Wilson, and fashion designer & creator of Engreve clothing Thar Tariq.

The event was the brainchild of local resident and former Pyle student Marium Ahmad, who wanted to take action to assist the citizens of Puerto Rico who were devastated by Hurricane Maria in September.

Ahmad and her mother Tazeen partnered with the Mid-Atlantic Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club’s Disaster Aid USA to ensure that the proceeds from the event were sent directly to Puerto Rico.

In addition to the ticket sales for the basketball game, Ahmad organized a raffle, a three-point basket contest and multiple tables of food and treats for donations. There was a halftime magic show by local magician Theo Rushin and even a chess competition, where Raskin competed against a local grade school boy.

“We have millions of Americans right now who are without power and without access to clean water and I’m just so moved when my constituents feel like a crisis that’s thousands of miles away is something that affects us here,” said Raskin. “I know they’ve raised a ton of money and they’ve gotten a lot of focus on what’s happening [in Puerto Rico.]”

After the Ahmads got the word out about the event, several businesses wanted to donate for the raffle. Gift cards to Maggiano’s and Salon Jean and Day Spa and tickets to a Washington Capitals game were just a few of the prizes available. The Ahmads covered most of the expenses to ensure that as much money as possible was sent to Puerto Rico.

Tazeen Ahmad, calendar editor for the Montgomery County Sentinel, chose Disaster Aid USA because she wanted to work with a Maryland-based nonprofit. Disaster Aid USA will provide water filters, mosquito nets, corrugated metal and other community needs such as Family Survival Boxes.

“We put this together quickly and people had fun but they also felt good about doing something important,” she said. “We had some donations before the event as well but it was more than just raising funds, it was about raising awareness. It makes me very happy and proud of the community and everyone has just been amazing.”

“Any time you can bring people together from diverse backgrounds in our community to support a cause that’s in need, that’s a good thing,” said Jawando. “The best of Montgomery County was on display today. The community came together today and that’s what we’re all about here.”



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