In September 2017, Hurricane Maria tore through the northeastern Caribbean. The deadly Category 5 storm hit Puerto Rico especially hard, causing billions of dollars in damage and numerous fatalities. After seeing and hearing about the damage, former NBA official Ed T. Rush and his wife, Trudy, knew they had to help.
Ed, who worked 32 seasons on the court, officiated 34 NBA Finals games and later served as the NBA director of officials from 1998-2003, refereed in Puerto Rico in the 1970s and knew several people who still lived there and experienced tremendous loss. It was that experience that laid the foundation for their current charity work, the Court Club Elite Foundation.
“We wanted to reach out to the members of the basketball community, whether it be individuals or teams or anyone in the basketball community that needed assistance,” Trudy, who currently oversees the foundation, said.
The Rushes flew down to Isabella, Puerto Rico, after the hurricane and met with some people they knew on the island. They toured the area and saw the damage done to the schools and outdoor basketball courts. They met with the mayor and school superintendent and some of the students and inquired what it would take for them to be able to play basketball again.
“They didn’t even have basketballs,” Trudy said. “Through some of our resources, we sent three huge boxes of basketball equipment — nets, balls, cones for practicing — just all kinds of things they could use on outdoor courts. We specifically wanted to help that group of students.”
A couple years ago a different crisis had consumed the foundation and the Rushes once again at the front and center of helping the basketball (and wider) officiating community. With the COVID-19 pandemic, there were a lot of officials out of work and unable to pay bills. While higher-level officials, for the most part, aren’t feeling the effects of the pandemic, a lot of younger officials and their families had jobs that were put on hold and they had no way to make income.
“It was only a matter of time before these people needed financial assistance,” Trudy said. “Ed and I met with our board members, talked it over and decided we would put info out from our foundation that it be known that if anyone needed financial assistance, to contact me. It was kept strictly confidential.”
The Rushes reached out to their members and asked them to donate if they could. The response was overwhelming as initially, they had more donations than requests. The outpouring from both members and non-members was immediate and incredible, according to Trudy.
To date, the foundation has helped pay over $10,000 in bills, most of which has gone to cover rent payments, and there will be more as time goes on.
“The longer this pandemic went on, the more apt we’d be to help,” Trudy said. “Luckily, we had enough donations to meet the requests.”
Fast-forward a couple more years and the officiating community is once again in need. Initial contact has been made from Court Club Elite Foundation to those affected officials and the community devastated by fires in Hawaii. With a long road of relief ahead, Ed & Trudy Rush are up to challenge.
100% of the donations that come in go directly toward providing assistance, allowing them to help as many individuals and families as possible.
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