Stars of ‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’ hit Staten Island for youth basketball tournament

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The fourth annual “Because We Can Sports” basketball league wrapped up their four-week league with a championship game on Jan. 29 at Gateway Church, the Integrated Athletic Initiative (The Initiative) announced.

The event, sponsored by South Shore Kiwanis Club and Frontline, was attended by a few hundred basketball enthusiasts, families, community members, Mid-Island Councilman David Carr, and stars of the Real Housewives of New Jersey.

“The coaches in the Because We Can Sports (BWC) league are truly dedicated and have a passion for helping young people succeed,” said Anthony Passalacqua, co-founder of The Initiative. “Their commitment has made a huge difference in the lives of the players.”

The Initiative is a unique athletic nonprofit that aims to bridge the gap between underprivileged, special needs, and mainstream youth and young adults. Through free, quality sports instruction, teams, events and leagues, the program helps build sports skills, confidence, self-esteem and sportsmanship while meeting the needs of each individual.

In attendance was former Staten Islander, Real Housewives of New Jersey (RHONJ) star Danielle Cabral. “It’s so beautiful to watch these children have fun, smile and play basketball,” she said. “I’m so proud of what The Initiative and BWC Sports have created for their community”. She attended with her husband Nate Cabral, and their son Dominic, who participated in the half-time show with Black Jack Ryan.

“We are extremely proud of our athletes and the impact that The Initiative is having on their lives,” said Coach Sal Fabozzi, president of the Integrated Athletic Initiative. “The game was a great opportunity for us to celebrate their achievements and bring the community together to support our mission.”

The two championship games were separated by a performance from streetball legend and three time Guinness Book of World Record holder Black Jack Ryan. The participants took part in an interactive basketball show, where Ryan demonstrated his masterful ball handling and had participants spinning balls on their fingers, heads and even pencils. The show concluded with a free throw competition with participants and Ryan.

Another RHONJ star, Teresa Giudice, also attended with husband Louie Ruelas and his children, Louie Jr. and Nicholas. “I was blown away today to see The Initiative’s BWC sports basketball championship,” she said. “More people need to know what Anthony and Sal have done, and continue to do for special needs children. They literally give their heart and soul to seeing these kids smile — love, love, love this.”


Anthony Passalacqua, left, Mid-Island Councilmember David Car, and Sal Fabozzi. (Courtesy Brian Licata)


Francine Cannizzo: “The Integrated Athletic Initiative has been a godsend for my son Frankie, who is on the autism spectrum. Not only has Frankie learned sportsmanship and teamwork, they have also helped him socialize with his peers as well as build beautiful new friendships.”

Lillian Scamardella: “I am so grateful to have found The Initiative! Sal, Anthony, and their team of angels have created a community for kids with special needs where they can learn a variety of sports, team building, turn taking, collaboration, sympathy and develop relationships with peers who share similar interests and struggles. Before BWC Sports and The Initiative, my son Michael never knew what a sense of belonging was, he had never been on a team, he didn’t have friends, and he had never participated in a tournament.”

“These are simple things most kids experience on a regular basis that kids with special needs can only dream of. Last week, my son scored his first basket ever as part of a basketball team, the crowd cheered, his teammates gave him high fives, he had the biggest smile and he felt so proud. For the first time ever, Michael was part of a team, a real team. Someone once said that it takes a village to raise a child,” she added.

The Integrated Athletic Initiative is committed to providing quality sports programs to youth and young adults in the NYC area and beyond. The success of the 4th Annual Because We Can Sports Basketball League is a testament to their commitment to excellence.

For more information the Integrated Athletic Initiative and its programs, please visit their website at https://theintegratedathleticinitiative.com/


Group photo of the 2nd Game Championship. (Courtesy Brian Licata)


1St Game Championship, including Gateway Church Cheerleaders
Image 1644 2nd Game Championship. (Courtesy Brian Licata)

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