Bismack Biyombo, the Toronto Raptors’ centre, has always believed in the bigger picture and using his spotlight as a professional athlete to give back to others, especially his native Congo. Using the power of sports for social goal, Bismack launched the "Bounds for Eastern Congo" campaign during the Raptors home game vs. the Atlanta Hawks on March 30, 2016. Powered by PLEDGE IT, his campaign raised more than $12,800 for the Eastern Congo Initiative.
Bismack was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the city of Lubumbashi on the southeast end of the country. For much of his youth, he ate one meal a day because that is all his family could afford. Getting to and from school required a two hour walk every single day until his father was able to afford a car. His childhood was not unique to those born in the DRC. Hunger and starvation are commonplace. The life expectancy in the DRC is in the 50s and the infant mortality rate is among the highest in the world. Over 60% of the children in his home country are not able to go to school as he did, and are becoming soldiers just to survive.
Bismack was lucky to be blessed with a unique talent to play basketball. A talent that has taken him from the Congo all the way to the NBA. While basketball helped provide Bismack with opportunities abroad, his family and the desire to give back to the people of the DRC brings him back there every summer. He absolutely loves the potential of this place and thinks Eastern Congo has a bright future.
"I’m going to play as hard as I can. It’s exciting because it’s something different than just playing for what we play for everyday, now I get to play for all those kids back home and I just think it’s going to be fun. The one thing is I play as hard as I can because I know I’m playing for a lot of those kids back home. I’m very excited about it." - Bismack Biyombo
After growing up in the DRC, Bismack has used his platform to provide educational opportunities for children of the Congo through the Eastern Congo Initiative. Bismack's PLEDGE IT campaign invited his fans to join his cause by pledging to support kids in the DRC with every rebound recorded vs. the Atlanta Hawks on March 30, 2016.
Before Bismack stepped on the courty, his campaign received a lot of traffic on social media. His campaign had more than 9.3 million timeline impressions and helped Bismack gain over 2,000 new followers on Twitter in less than 48 hours.
“I wanted to do a fundraiser, but I realized I wanted to do something that would be more exciting, that would be more than just me going out there and talking about the Congo." - Bismack Biyombo
Fans had the opportunity to pledge a donation for every rebound recorded. In less than 3 days, 121 fans pledged a total of $2,135 per rebound. Bismack recorded 6 rebounds during the game vs. the Hawks. In total, fans helped Bismack raise $12,812 for the Eastern Congo Initiative.
Thanks to all who pledged so far! $1, $5 per rebound-it all makes a difference! I'm ready to own the glass tonight https://t.co/6ovzCPIoFh— Bismack Biyombo (@bismackbiyombo0) March 30, 2016
Founded in 2014, PLEDGE IT is an online fundraising platform that empowers teams and athletes to raise money based on their athletic performance. Fans can pledge any dollar amount for every touchdown, run or point scored to benefit their favorite charitable causes.
Since 2014, PLEDGE IT has helped professional athletes in the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, MLS, and Olympics support their favorite charities, as well as countless colleges, high schools and youth teams.
PLEDGE IT has also worked with large charities such as The American Cancer Society, UNICEF, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia and the Ronald McDonald House and has been featured on ESPN, USA TODAY, Fox Sports, MSNBC, Sports Illustrated and Ellen DeGeneres Show.