LYNCHBURG, Va. — Home is where the heart is.
For Liberty Flames’ sophomore guard Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz, his heart is at home with his family in his home city of Ponce, Puerto Rico. The Caribbean was ravaged by hurricanes this summer, with Georgie’s home nation of Puerto Rico being hit extremely hard by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Most of the island is without power, and that includes Pacheco-Ortiz’s family.
“They are still able to go to work, but they still do not have power,” said Pacheco-Ortiz. “Luckily, I am still able to call them every night, but it has to be at the neighbour’s house because the telephone tower is out where I used to call my parents.”
“It has been tough, but my family has kept a positive attitude throughout this tough time.”
Over the last couple of week, the NCAA has granted countless waivers to schools across the country so that they can organize a third exhibition game before the 2017-18 season start. Programs are using the games to raise funds and awareness for humanitarian efforts and disaster relief efforts across the world.
On Thursday, the Flames will take on the VCU Rams in an exhibition game to raise funds for disaster relief in Puerto Rico, a game that will mean so much more to Pacheco-Ortiz.
Despite playing on the road, the game hits right at home for the sophomore guard.
“This means a ton for my family, and especially for me,” said Georgie, when asked just how much it means to him to participate in a game that will directly provide assistance to his home country. “To get the opportunity to do what I love and play the game of basketball while being able to help out my family and country is something I am very grateful for.”
“I cannot thank Liberty University and Coach McKay enough.”
In a release last week by Liberty University, head coach Ritchie McKay was quick to thank the Flames’ opponents on Thursday night, the Rams, for being a part of the night.
“This is a fabulous cause to take part in and have a chance to play at the Siegel Center, in front of one of the most passionate fan bases in America,” said McKay. “This a chance for us to make a dark day bright and we cannot thank VCU enough for partnering with us.”
Tickets for the game are $15, and all proceeds from the game are going directly to help disaster relief efforts. If you are in the neighbourhood of the Siegel Center on Thursday night and are able to attend, we ask that you take the time to support such a worthy cause.
Pacheco-Ortiz, the rest of the Flames, and the Rams would ask the same thing.
“Times are tough right now, so I just want to encourage anyone that is willing and able to help out, please do so,” said Georgie. “Puerto Rico is a small island, but has a big heart and great people.”
“It is painful to see friends and family back home suffering, so we want to help them any way we can.”
Pacheco-Ortiz is coming off a summer in which he represented his home nation at the FIBA U19 Championships in Cairo, Egypt. At the annual Big South Conference Media Day on October 24th, Pacheco-Ortiz was named to the All-Big South Second Team, along with teammate Ryan Kemrite.
The Flames are expected to contend atop the Big South Conference standings, and are our pick to win the conference, in a bit of an upset.
Thursday will provide fans with their first glimpse of the Flames in game action, but the main focus is on raising funds and awareness for humanitarian efforts in Puerto Rico.
The game may be played on the road, but home is where the focus will be for Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz as he steps onto the couty inside the Siegel Center.
After all, home is where the heart is.
– T. Bennett