A ‘bad boy’ stopped by the 56th annual Detroit Fireworks.

Serving as honorary chair for the 9th Annual Catch the Fireworks With Cass benefit, former Piston Isiah Thomas helped spread love in the community throughout the day.

“People came up to us at the shelters,” said Rev. Faith Fowler, executive director, Cass Community Social Services (CCSS). “These kids wouldn't know who Isiah is, and then two women came up and brought their bible for him to autograph.

“I can’t tell you how much it means to them and us, to have this kind of support. I know the city’s turning around, but there are days that are long - really long. When they are, we’ll remember [days like] today.”

Related: Michael Jordan: The $1 Billion Man

CCSS has an annual operating budget of about $5.5 million. They prepare and serve one million meals annually. The organization operates a weekly free medical clinic and a day program for 100 adults with developmental disabilities. Seventy adults are currently employed in the agency’s Green Industries which marry jobs with sustainability.

Tickets for the fireworks benefit cost $250, with several items up for auction. CCSS anticipates about $100,000 raised in donations from the nearly 300 attendees.

Game Changers

Earl Cureton, a native Detroiter and Piston who now works for his former team, spoke about how the franchise yearns to be more than just a basketball team.

“We have a vision of mind not only to use The Palace of Auburn Hills as a venue for basketball and entertainment, but also to bring the community together,” said Cureton, quickly followed up by Thomas.

“Vision!” the two-time NBA champion shouted.

Cureton then introduced the Game Changers program. The program is meant to honor someone in the state of Michigan who has made a difference in the community.

“Change the game, baby!” Thomas piped out.

An emotional Michael Smith was honored Monday night. Smith spent much of his life on the street, but has since pulled himself up and is the owner of Woodward Quality Furniture in Highland Park, Michigan.

“Anytime Cass needs something, he steps up to the plate,” said Cureton. Before getting choked up, Smith thanked everyone for the honor, acknowledging he has now been clean and sober for 23 years.

A Helping Hand

Ford Motor (NYSE: F) has been the title sponsor of the benefit, held at Coach Insignia restaurant atop the GM Renaissance Center, for the past nine years. Co-chair Burt Jordan, executive director, global PT purchasing at Ford, thanked Thomas for all his work in the Detroit and Chicago communities before speaking about what he’s learned from his company.

Jordan touted Ford Motor's 111th birthday, stating how the automaker has donated over $150 million over the last 10 years. He then mentioned something that Bill Ford, Jr., executive chairman, always says.

“Good companies turn a profit. Great companies not only turn a profit, but make the world a better place. That's what we're all about and why we like to be associated with Cass.”

Back In Blue?

A Detroit News report back in May said Thomas was on the verge of becoming a minority owner in the Pistons. Thomas played for the team from 1981-1994, and has since had a very up-and-down basketball career.

He has, however, been welcomed back warmly any time he makes a return to Detroit. Thomas didn't specify, but when asked by Benzinga if fans can expect to see him at The Palace a lot more this season, he flashed his famous smile and said they could.

Related Articles
  1. Economics

    Long-Term Investing Impact of the Paris Attacks

    We share some insights on how the recent terrorist attacks in Paris could impact the economy and markets going forward.
  2. Economics

    Is Wall Street Living in Denial?

    Will remaining calm and staying long present significant risks to your investment health?
  3. Economics

    Will Recession Become Reality in 2016?

    Due to creative measures by central banks, there is no telling when a recession will actually occur, but natural economic forces will eventually win.
  4. Investing

    A Surprising Way to Seek Income as Rates Rise

    As an alternative investment, income-seeking investors may turn to dividend-paying exchange traded funds (ETFs) as a way to seek both income and growth.
  5. Stock Analysis

    Will the Stock Rally Last Past Christmas?

    The stock market can't seem to make up its mind. Will investors end up with coal for Christmas or might their wishes come true?
  6. Economics

    The Biggest Oil Producers in the Middle East

    Discover which countries produce the most oil in the Middle East, a region long known for its influence on international petroleum markets.
  7. Economics

    The Biggest Oil Producers in Africa

    Discover which African countries produce the most oil, and learn more about which domestic and international oil companies operate in each country.
  8. Economics

    The Biggest Oil Producers in Latin America

    Find out which countries produce the most oil in Latin America, and learn about some of the biggest oil companies operating in each country.
  9. Stock Analysis

    The 6 Biggest Russian Energy Companies

    Learn about the top energy companies in Russia, a country that holds some of the largest reserves of oil, natural gas and coal in the world.
  10. Stock Analysis

    The Biggest Oil Producers in Asia

    Learn which Asian countries deliver the most crude oil to market, and discover what companies are the biggest producers in each country.
  1. What is the long-term outlook of the metals and mining sector?

    An industry agency council was established by the World Economic Forum in 2014 to serve as an advisory board on the future ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is the railroads sector?

    The railroads sector is comprised of publicly traded stocks for companies that operate railroad tracks and/or trains. Railroad ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Who are Amgen Inc.'s (AMGN) main competitors?

    Biotech giant Amgen Inc (AMGN) bills itself as one of the first biotechnology firms. It was founded in 1980 and has grown ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What's the most expensive stock of all time?

    Back in late August 2012, Apple’s (AAPL) stock price reached nearly $700 per share. The stock has since split but has yet ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center