Detroit players pitch in to help Flint

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Detroit — Chea Taylor was raised understanding it’s important to provide for those in need.

A 6-foot sophomore forward at Detroit, Taylor learned about the Flint water crisis and realized she had to do something. She met with Titans senior guard Anton Wilson, a Flint native whose family still lives there, to discuss her idea.

Following Taylor’s lead, they have launched a bottled-water collection initiative.

And today and Saturday, during Detroit men’s and women’s basketball doubleheaders, anyone can drop off bottled water, cleansing wipes and toothbrushes and toothpaste at Calihan Hall. The two will collect the items through Feb. 22 before delivering it to Flint that day.

Donations received at Calihan after that deadline from Feb. 23 to March 19 will go toward the UDM campus initiative of supporting Detroit Sip and Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Flint.

“Once I heard about it, I was waiting and saw that really no one was doing anything about it on campus,” Taylor said Wednesday. “Since we’re only 45 minutes away from Flint, and we’re talking about us being part of the community, I felt this was something we should do to get it out there and help them up there.

“I didn’t want to be the person to wait and see something happen. I took the action to make something like that happen. I’m happy we’re doing something now. It feels good I had a little say in that.”

Wilson visited his family in Flint last weekend. His family has adhered to the year-long advisory to boil water before using it if bottled water is not an option. But, Wilson was nervous about the water; he actually boiled the bottled water for his shower.

“You just drive down the street and you see signs, ‘Free Water’, and people giving away bottled water. It’s very depressing,” Wilson said. “You never thought this would happen in your own country, but for it to happen in my hometown is very depressing.”

Wilson always has gone back to Flint to teach basketball and life skills to kids, but never has done something like this.

“I always give back as far as children but not to a whole community,” he said. “It makes me feel real good I can help the city of Flint, everyone, not just touch a little child’s heart but everyone.”

Taylor, who wants to become a high school teacher, has long been devoted to giving back. She served in student government and participated in JROTC in high school, but always followed her mother’s approach to help anyone needing assistance.

“I learned that at a young age about giving back to a community and giving back to people in need and not waiting and to be assertive and get things done,” Taylor said. “Just seeing (my mother) be that type of woman, I’ve always modeled myself off her.

“I’ve always been involved in community service. I feel that’s going to be a big part of me when I get older and teach my kids in the future of always giving back no matter how much you have or how little you have to always give back. Even as a college student now, if I only have $2, and I see someone homeless, I give my last to them.”

They have both learned the value of water.

Taylor said she had some bottles of water half-empty, and she now refuses to allow waste.

“In Flint, they need to use all of it,” she said. “I said, ‘We’re not throwing away this water. We’re going to drink it all. It makes you appreciate what you have, like brushing your teeth out of a sink — they can’t do that in Flint.”

Wilson and Taylor also have learned that their roles as student-athletes can offer a unique platform to encourage and facilitate helping others.

“It’s like celebrities, they have a voice too and they’re using it,” Taylor said. “Us as athletes can do that as well.”


Illinois-Chicago at Detroit

Tip-off: 11 a.m. Thursday, Calihan Hall, Detroit


Records: Illinois-Chicago 11-11 (2-9 Horizon), Detroit 11-11 (7-4)

Admission: Free


Green Bay at Detroit

Tip-off: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Calihan Hall, Detroit

TV/radio: WADL/1270

Records: Green Bay 14-10 (6-5), Detroit 12-11 (6-6)

Admission: $10-$15

Outlook: Detroit has lost six straight in the series. ... Green Bay is second in the Horizon League in scoring (85.4). ... During a timeout in the first half, former Titans All-American and NBA player Terry Duerod will receive this year’s John Conti Letterman of Distinction Award.