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Former athlete starts non-profit org.

Amber Travis | Wednesday, April 16, 2008

When Notre Dame senior Abdel Banda suffered a career ending football injury during his sophomore year he didn’t know in what direction he wanted to take his life. After some searching, he and his friend Thomas Killian, Jr., created Students Bridging the Information Gap (SBIG), a non-profit organization based in New Jersey.

Banda said he wanted to create SBIG because of the combination of hardships he endured and the fact that he has the ability to be able to give back.

“A lot of people have helped me out and they have always told me a lot that you’ve got to give forward,” he said. “I feel like God has given me a lot of gifts and I have a responsibility [to give back].”

SBIG plans to choose an orphanage to give funds to each year based on a needs assessment process, Banda said.

Each orphanage chosen will receive adequate funding to install approximately 12-15 computers, build fully equipped facilities such as computer labs and libraries and hire full-time computer teachers in order to teach various technological skills, he said.

This year, the organization will be donating over $50,000 raised at two fundraisers held in New York City in February and March to Basco, an orphanage with about 300 children of all ages located an hour outside of Accra, the capital of Ghana, Banda said.

Banda recruited former teammate Maurice Crum Jr. to help him work with the organization while he is at Notre Dame.

Crum said he was excited when Banda told him he was going to start the organization because he thinks helping others is necessary.

“I jumped at the opportunity based on the background information of what the organization is and what it stands for,” he said. “Anything that I can do to help anyone, I’m all for it.”

Banda agreed, saying the organization follows Notre Dame’s teachings of helping others.

“Notre Dame is always teaching about humanity and service, and we are doing it,” Banda said. “The importance of service has really been instilled in me here at Notre Dame.”

Banda and Crum are in the process of planning a trip to Ghana in June with the entire organization which includes the co-founders, volunteers from Banda’s high school and members of the Board of Trustee to complete the instillation of the learning facilities.

“For the entire week that we’re there the volunteers are going to help teach and interact with the kids,” Banda said. “That’s what the organization is all about. It’s students bridging the information gap not only by helping kids who are less fortunate but by allowing other students who are more fortunate to share the experience and gain a better understanding of what those in less fortunate countries have to deal with.”

Banda is graduating this spring, but Crum is going to be the Notre Dame Ambassador for the organization during the 2008-2009 school-year while he fulfills his fifth year of eligibility on the football team.

He said he is grateful to Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis and the Notre Dame Athletic Department for allowing him to be a part of the organization despite his busy schedule as a student athlete.

“I don’t want this just to be about me,” Crum said. “I’m a representation of the team, and we’re not just about football.”