Dwayne Wade has accomplished a lot in his career. He won a gold medal as a member of the U.S. Men's Olympic basketball team. He won an NBA championship as a member of the Miami Heat. He was even named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year. But to Edward Leonard Sr. all of this is overshadowed by another of Wade's accomplishments: he kept his boyhood library from shutting its doors.
On September 10, 2009 Wade donated $25,000 to the William Leonard Public Library in Robbins, IL., a suburb of Chicago. The library, founded by and named for Edward Leonard's father, was threatened with closure when tax dollars from Cook County were delayed by the economic downturn. A federal grant kept the library open through the end of September, but time and money were running out. Wade's donation gives the facility a month's reprieve, which should be enough time for the tax revenue to start covering the costs.
Wade grew up in Robbins, and says there's good reason he still cares about the community: "My upbringing involves individuals who helped me along the way. I don’t think I would be here today without that support. I feel obligated to help my hometown. Though small, my contributions to the library are beneficial to many, especially the children. They need the library as a resource to be better prepared and confident."
When things were at their bleakest, The Mayor of Robbins, Irene Brodie, made a desperate plea: "We're just hurting more and more and I wish someone would consider Robbins as a whole, because we really need someone to help us." Luckily, Wade was there to make a game-winning basket with only seconds left on the community's clock.
Library Adminstrator Priscilla Coatney already has plans for the donation: "We'll buy a few materials for the kids. I can get computers fixed hopefully." Audrena Spence and her 8 year old son, Stephen, are among those benefiting from Wade's generosity: "The library is a safe haven. It's a family. The children need a safe place," said Spence.
Wade is committed to helping at risk children with his Wade's World Foundation. The library is not the only place in Robbins that has gotten help from Wade, his foundation gave $150,000 to remodel the gym of his high school alma mater. "We're trying to do what we can through the Wade's World Foundation to help out in a small way for a big cause," Wade told the SouthTown Star.
Despite the fact that Wade now plays for Miami, he still has great affection for the Windy City: "It’s a big city with a small-town feel. The Chicago community, wherever I go, they always lift their arms and hearts to me." But he can't forget the downside of The City of the Big Shoulders: "You can keep the winters and snow."