By SAMANTHA SMITH, Staff Writer | Published April 4, 2019
ATLANTA—On a sunny afternoon, fans and supporters gathered at Marist School for the first ever “L’Arche Madness,” a basketball tournament fundraiser supporting L’Arche Atlanta on March 23.
For eight rounds, players shot baskets for three minutes in an effort to raise $15,000. Players included residents of the L’Arche Atlanta house, such as John Hudson, who kicked off the tournament with the cheer, “Let’s get ready to rumble!”
L’Arche Atlanta brings people together with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities to share in community and fellowship. Originally founded in France more than 50 years ago and present in 38 different countries, L’Arche celebrates the talents everyone has to share.
Tim Moore, executive director and community leader for L’Arche Atlanta, describes the nonprofit as “a community joining in mission to create a more inclusive world for all.”
The L’Arche Atlanta communal home in Decatur includes four core members, those living with intellectual disabilities and four assistants who live in the home full-time. Together, they share their lives, fellowship and give support to one another.
While L’Arche has Catholic roots, people of all faiths are welcome to share in its mission. As stated by L’Arche International, “The experience of living together leads to a better understanding of our common humanity, and the life-spirit that enables such a very diverse group of people to live in harmony together.”
Steve Siler, chair of the board of directors, feels his faith has grown since getting involved with L’Arche Atlanta in 2002.
“Being involved with L’Arche and its members has helped to open me—it’s shown me the value of vulnerability,” he said in email.
The tournament was marked by cheers as core members and friends of L’Arche Atlanta scored baskets. Members of the Cathedral of Christ the King young adult ministry helped with registration, t-shirt sales, score keeping, face painting and photography. Moore encouraged people to get loud as the crowd cheered and rocked to the music.
Four golden basketballs were prizes for the players in different categories. Patrick Barlow and John Hudson, core members of L’Arche Atlanta, won for most donors and dollars raised, respectively. Brennan Ujda, a friend of L’Arche Atlanta, won for most points scored and Emily Giese, a member of the organization’s community council, won for most L’Arche spirit.
With donations and matches, L’Arche Atlanta was able to raise more than $46,000. Moore was pleased with the atmosphere and considered the inaugural event a “tremendous success.”
L’Arche Atlanta creates a loving space for people with disabilities and promotes the “dignity of all human beings,” said Moore.
“I’ve been converted to a new way of thinking about people with intellectual disabilities,” said Siler. “Their lives have something to teach me about being present to the other, about listening, about slowing down.”
As the nonprofit continues to make an impact on the community, there are many ways to get involved. Those interested in learning more, are invited to an open house on Saturday, May 11, from 1-3 p.m. at the L’Arche house at 305 Mead Road in Decatur.
Community events vary from sporting events to social dances. Young adults can also get involved in the L’Arche Atlanta Community Council, which helps to carry out projects for the nonprofit. Applications will be accepted for the 2020 council in August 2019.
“Anywhere there is the potential to have relationship with someone with disabilities is a worthy endeavor – it’s a beautiful and precious thing,” said Moore