SAAC "Hoops for Heroes" to collect donations at Saturday doubleheader

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- U.S. Army Sergeant Kelly Deming was awarded the Purple Heart for combat-related injuries he sustained in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

As part of the Ohio Valley Conference's "Hoops for Heroes" initiative, Deming and his family have been invited to attend the OVC Basketball Tournament in Nashville, March 2-5, with their week's expenses provided from fund-raising efforts by Tennessee Tech University's student-athletes.

To support the effort, Tech's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) will fan out into the Eblen Center stands on Saturday during an OVC doubleheader against Southeast Missouri, with a mission of collecting donations from TTU fans to support the trip for Deming's family.

"This is a great opportunity and we really appreciate what they're doing in giving us a chance to go to Nashville and watch the OVC tournament," Deming said.

Deming and his family, including his wife, Tiffany, four-year-old daughter Emma Grayce and two-month-old son Kamden, will attend the games and be introduced to the crowd when the donations are solicited. Saturday's doubleheader will be the first time Deming has attended a Tech basketball game.

Born in Jackson County and raised in Rickman, Deming joined the Army and began active duty in 2002. He went to basic training at Fort Knox, Ky., as a cavalry scout, and afterward was stationed in Schweinfurt, Germany with the 1st Infantry Division until November, 2005. He deployed to Iraq with the 1st Infantry Division from February 2004 until March 2005.

In July 2004, while heading back to their forward operating base from conducting security patrols in a nearby city, he was severely wounded when the vehicle he was riding in was hit by an improvised explosive device.

Deming joined the Tennessee National Guard in March, 2006, and was hired full-time in Cookeville in November, 2008. He deployed with the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment in 2009.

Tech's SAAC has selected Deming and his family, the second Soldier to receive the trip to the OVC Tournament from Tech's SAAC efforts through the OVC's association with the Wounded Warrior project. The program was started last year, and Tech's fund-raising went to Lance Corporal Eric Frazier's family.

Fans will be asked to give generously to support this effort when the student-athletes make their way through the arena Saturday evening.

For additional information on the game or the "Hoops for Heroes" project, please call (931) 372-3940 or visit the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center. The doubleheader begins with the women's game tipoff at 5:30 p.m., followed by the men's contest at 7:30 p.m.

Fans wishing to make donations to the SAAC fund-raising efforts for the "Hoops for Heroes" program but are not able to attend the games Saturday may contact the Athletics Ticket Office for information.