By JOHN ALTAVILLA | The Hartford Courant
November 5, 2008
Connecticut Sun guard Ketia Swanier, who helped lead the UConn women
to the Final Four last season, is the only member of her WNBA team not playing basketball overseas. But she has a good reason for putting her career on hold.
Swanier has been using the time to fulfill a dream. And the pursuit of that will take her to Washington this weekend with her father, Cornell, a retired Army First Sergeant. The Swaniers will visit wounded soldiers and their families at Walter Reed Hospital, one of the first steps Ketia is taking to help establish her Ketia4kidz Foundation.
The daughter of a military family — both parents are retired from the Army — Swanier’s goal is simply expressed in the charity’s mission statement:
“To motivate children of active duty military personnel to achieve their dreams and goals by promoting excellence in academics and sports related programs. These programs will include reading, study skills, life skills, goal setting, sportsmanship as well as living healthier lifestyles.”
Swanier’s website, www.Ketia4kidz.org, is scheduled to be up soon. In the meantime, one of the Sun’s two first-round picks last season is beginning to make appearances to promote her charity. She will hold her first fundraiser Dec. 5 when her high school jersey will be retired by Columbus High (Ga.).
“My father was deployed to Iraq and Saudi Arabia,” Swanier said. “My mother [Rosie, also a retired Army First Sergeant] was sent to Bosnia for 10 months. Practically every year I spent from sixth grade through high school, I was in a single-family home because one of my parents was always somewhere in the world.
“I want to give the children of these families an example, encourage them to dream big and believe they can still accomplish things.”
The first beneficiary of the foundation will be Fort Benning in Columbus, Ga., where Swanier’s parents were stationed before their retirement. Funds will be used to provide school supplies and tutoring, etiquette and life skills programs.
Swanier will resume her basketball career soon, although she doesn’t know where she will play.
“I’m just working on my shot right now,” Swanier said. “I go to the gym a few days a week. And I’m doing workouts to take care of my body. [Sun coach Mike] Thibault told us playing overseas was our own decision. He just told me what I should work on.”