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Men’s basketball team joins hurricane relief efforts

Sophomore guard Georgie Pancheco-Ortiz, who is from Puerto Rico, will lead Liberty University’s Men’s Basketball team in its season-opening exhibition game at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond on Thursday.

In the aftermath of a deadly hurricane season, Liberty University’s Men’s Basketball team is taking an active role in raising money for relief efforts to support Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Flames will open their preseason by participating in an exhibition game at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) this Thursday at 7 p.m. in Richmond. All proceeds from ticket sales, available for $15 through VCU’s Athletics website, will go toward hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

“This is a fabulous cause to take part in … to help bring some hope to Puerto Rico,” Liberty Head Coach Ritchie McKay said. “This a chance for us to make a dark day bright, and we cannot thank VCU enough for partnering with us.”

Flames sophomore guard Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz, who played his last two years of high school basketball in Richmond, was born and raised in Ponce, Puerto Rico. His family still lives there and was affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria when both swept through the Caribbean with devastating effects in September.

“This means a lot to me because not only (Ponce) but the entire island has suffered a lot of damage,” Pacheco-Ortiz said. “I know my city is happy to see not only me on the court but also Liberty University on the court helping out people back home.”

Liberty’s Athletics department is also organizing a “Dance 4 Puerto Rico” fundraiser on Saturday, Nov. 4, from 9:30-midnight at The Glass House in Downtown Lynchburg, Va., to support hurricane relief efforts in Ponce.

Last month, Liberty received the bid to host the Nov. 17-19 Paradise Jam, which has been held for the past 17 years in the U.S. Virgin Islands but had to be relocated because of the storms. All 12 games in the eight-team tournament — featuring Colorado, Drake, Drexel, Houston, Liberty, Mercer, Quinnipiac, and Wake Forest — will be played in the Vines Center. The Flames will tip off the tournament by meeting Mercer at noon on Nov. 17. All proceeds will go toward hurricane recovery efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“We are honored and thrilled to host the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam at Liberty University,” Flames Director of Athletics Ian McCaw said. “This event is one of college basketball’s most prestigious tournaments.”

“We consider it a great privilege to partner with Basketball Travelers, our faculty, staff, and student body in supporting the relief effort in the Virgin Islands,” McKay added. “In my 29 years of coaching, the Paradise Jam has been one of my all-time favorites, so we are elated that we will have the opportunity to be an extension of this event and hope that our guests feel the same type of warmth and hospitality during their stay.”

Tickets for all 12 games of the Paradise Jam are available for $70, with individual two-game-session tickets on sale for $20. Students (with a valid college ID and younger) will be admitted for any monetary donation. Visit the Flames Ticket Office located at the main entrance to the Vines Center, order tickets online or via email at tickets@liberty.edu, or call 434-582-SEAT (7328).

The university has already been active in relief efforts this year through LU Send Now, its quick response team for urgent disaster relief and humanitarian needs. Students, faculty, and staff have raised nearly $14,000 in donations to its hurricane relief fund. This fall, LU Send Now has dispatched students to southern Texas and the Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda, as well as to central Mexico following a 7.1-magnitude earthquake. Read about some of these disaster relief trips in the Fall 2017 Liberty Journal. To make a general donation to support LU Send Now teams, visit the LU Send No website and click on the donation tab, or call (800) 368-3801.

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