Stephen Avenue and Centre Street will be alive with basketballers on Saturday as the first-ever YYC Jam takes over downtown Calgary.
Money from the fundraising event will go towards The Balance Foundation – an organization that helps at-risk youth through sport and is meant to carry on the legacy of Brett Wiese.
Co-founder Colton Lewis said the group was created as a result of Wiese’s murder in 2013 at a house party in Brentwood.
Wiese was Lewis’ best friend. Both young men were stabbed while attending the house party. Wiese was killed in the attack and Lewis spent weeks in the hospital in the intensive care unit recovering from his injuries.
The Balance Foundation aims to inspire positivity and create a lasting legacy for Wiese.
“It is our goal to make sure when people Google search Brett’s name, they read about the positive stories, the type of person he was versus reading about the trial and the murder,” he said.
“I do think creating equal opportunity is crucial to communities and crucial to prevent things like this from happening.”
The foundation offers a $10,000 scholarship and there have already been six recipients from the University of Calgary.
But according to Lewis, the group wanted to expand and do more. YYC Jam is a way for the organization to fundraise but also promote a balanced and active lifestyle. The proceeds will go towards mentorship and programs — aimed at getting at-risk youths off a dangerous path.
“We wanted to do more, we wanted to prevent these incidents from happening. And that’s why we started The Balance Foundation. Or long term goal is to provide mentorship and programming. It’s very specific goal setting… (helping) at-risk youth through sports so they can go on a different path to hopefully prevent these things from happening,” Lewis said.
WATCH: May 2019: Mitchell Harkes guilty of second-degree murder of Brett Wiese
Brett’s mother, Brenda Wiese, said it was very appropriate the group focused deeply on sport and youth, another way to carry on her son’s legacy.
“Sports was such a big part of Brett’s life. Hockey, hiking, snowboarding wakeboarding, skiing — all sorts of things. And the focus of the Balance Foundation is obviously sport-focused and I think it’s so appropriate with this connection to Brett,” Brenda said.
“If the Balance Foundation can make a difference in one person’s life and shifts a young person from a path of anger and violence into that not happening, then it’s so worth it.”
For Lewis, it’s part of the healing process but also a way to channel Wiese’s personality and create something positive.
“There’s a reason we named it the Balance Foundation… it’s because Brett lived the perfect balanced lifestyle. He was a great student, he was a great athlete, he was a great friend and most importantly, he was a great family member. He was the most positive person and an amazing friend. We miss him a lot.”
YYC Jam will take place downtown on the corner of Stephen Avenue and Centre Street S.W. from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday.