Michael “Skeet” Horton wanted to get a tattoo. He was 27 and had overcome so much in his life. This tattoo was his way of celebrating who he had become and his journey.
Hoop ‘Til It Hurts
Skeet knew that basketball and the way he gave his very best on the court – he hooped ‘til it hurt – was why he had succeeded in life. Frankly, the odds weren’t in his favor. Skeet grew up in one of the toughest Chicago neighborhoods with adults in his life who didn’t go to work every day and where drugs and alcohol were often around. The people in his life didn’t expect much from him.
When Skeet was in 8th grade, he tried out for the Chicago Demons basketball team. Until then, baseball had been his sport but friends were trying out for the team, so he decided to join them and that decision may have changed the trajectory of Skeet’s life. With basketball, Skeet found male role models — men who went to work every day; who were responsible; who demanded respect; who cared about him and expected him to give his very best every day.
It was Skeet’s association with basketball that landed him his first job working in the summer program for Project Education Plus, a non-profit supporting Chicagoans in need. When he graduated from college, Skeet was hired again at Project Education Plus to write grants. He started coaching basketball right away and continued for 25 years, mentoring and inspiring young men to give their very best on and off the court.
Paul and Laura Walder
In 2012, Paul and Laura Walder’s 12-year-old son Hunter joined the Chicago Demons, a youth basketball program that brings together kids from all over the city. Their lives changed forever. It quickly became clear that their family would forever be impacted by a man who is far more than a coach – Skeet Horton is an innovator and mentor who for over 30 years has used sport and community to change lives.
Paul and Laura met boys who held so much promise, but lacked vital resources to fully reach their potential. Hunter developed a deep friendship with a young man named Edward Bryant who flourished under the guidance of Coach both on and off the court. And then in one minute it all changed. On October 30, 2016, Ed and his twin brother, Edwin, were murdered one month after their 17th birthdays on a street corner in Chicago.
Devastated by the tragic loses, Coach Horton and the Walder family doubled down to help kids who are plagued by a lack of resources which often results in crime and violence. In 2018, the Walder family created the Edward Bryant Scholarship Fund to turn Ed’s dream of attending college into a reality for other deserving boys and girls. The fund specifically helps supplement expenses not covered by traditional scholarships – computers, books, travel expenses, toiletries, etc.
In addition to creating the Edward Bryant Scholarship Fund, the Walders have served on the board of Project Education Plus for three years and are thrilled to be founding board members for the Hoop ‘Til It Hurts Foundation.
Larry grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and moved to south Florida in 2004.
As a board member for JTAA (Jupiter Tequesta Athletic Association) and a father of two boys who are active in team sports, Larry has seen firsthand how team sports enriches lives by teaching kids to confront adversity; to win and to lose graciously; to be part of a team and work together to accomplish a goal. He has also witnessed the many times that kids weren’t able to play in travel sports or rec leagues because they couldn’t afford the fees or sports equipment and scholarships were limited.
With his experience leading video production and digital marketing agencies, Larry hopes to share the passion and story of Hoop ‘Til It Hurts with a national audience and to inspire adults to invest in kids who have the will and the determination to follow in the footsteps of Skeet Horton.
Breck Mahoney was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago. He graduated from the University of Redlands with a BS in Business Administration, received his MBA from U of R. He was fortunate enough to play college basketball all four years as well! He currently works in Digital Advertising Sales at iHeartMedia.
Breck has played the game his entire life whether that was at camps, clinics, individual workouts, or his school teams he wouldn’t have accomplished what he did without the help and guidance of his father, coaches, and mentors over the years. Now it’s his turn to help and give back! Hoop ‘Til It Hurts couldn’t be a more perfect place to do just that!
Nancy Hughes has more than 30 years’ experience in B2B and B2C food and beverage, health and wellness, specialty ingredient, and nutraceutical markets. She is the founder and Chief Executive Officer at Apura Ingredients and acting EVP of Sales at Quintessence Nutraceuticals LLC. She led the strategic commercialization of Changzhou Niutang Chemical, Inc. in the U.S., securing $150 million annual sales commitments in the sweeteners and vitamins categories, achieving year-over-year double-digit growth. An elite strategist and esteemed within the ingredient industry, Nancy has partnered with global brand powerhouses including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kraft Heinz, Mondelez International, Mars, Wrigley, Dr. Pepper Snapple and Pfizer in the development of long-term sustainable growth and product innovation strategies.
During the successful course of her career, Nancy held senior executive positions with Unico-Perrigo, The NutraSweet Company, Monsanto, Helene Curtis Industries, Bristol-Meyer Squibb, Del Monte, and Unilever. She has launched over 200 products and technologies, generating multi-million-dollar revenue for her customers and companies.
Kaine Osburn currently serves as Superintendent for Avoca School District 37 in Wilmette, IL. Avoca is consistently rated among the best K-8 district in Illinois in terms of academics and enhanced learning opportunities for students. Prior to serving as leader for Avoca, Kaine spent three years as Superintendent in Lake Zurich, Illinois. Additionally, Kaine has been a Deputy Superintendent, high school principal, and high school English teacher and earned PhD in Educational Policy from Loyola University Chicago. On a national level, between 2015 and 2019, Kaine served as a Trustee for The College Board, the member-led nonprofit organization that provides the SAT test and AP coursework for millions of students. Most of all, Kaine’s support for the role that youth sports can play in developing character and future success comes from his own experience as a high school basketball player and the son of a college basketball coach. Kaine knows firsthand from playing, coaching, and teaching that students engaged in sports and other extracurricular activities have a greater chance for success.