School of Medicine

The Pulse

Drive and Dish Meets Goal of Reaching 50 Families with Basketball Equipment

Two LSU Health New Orleans Resident Physicians, Drs. Michael Okoronkwo and Keyana F. Varnado founded the Drive and Dish Foundation with the goal of raising funds to purchase and deliver basketballs and goals to 50 families.

Dr. Okoronkwo said that 37 families have already received their new equipment and they will have reached all 50 families by September, 2020.

“Growing up, playing sports was more than a hobby; it was an opportunity to mentally decompress and to escape my reality,” said Dr. Okoronkwo. “This brought me closer to personal peace and purpose. As Covid-19 has impacted all of us, I couldn't help but think of the New Orleans area youth who didn't have access to these benefits of sports activity because of COVID-19. This was my inspiration for creating Drive and Dish.” 
In the safety of their own driveways or backyards, New Orleans youth can remain physically and mentally well with the donated equipment. 

“As lifelong New Orleans residents, former athletes, and physicians, we understand the impact that sport has on both physical and mental health,” said Dr. Varnado. “As LSU Health New Orleans medical students serving as leaders of LSU Tiger Cubs and LSU Student National Medical Association (SNMA) via the school's Office of Diversity and Community Engagement, we learned firsthand that community engagement and medicine go hand-in-hand.” 

The program garnered a lot of media attention, including appearances on WWL, WDSU and Fox 8 news broadcasts, as well as tweets from New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell. 

“Michael is extremely modest about his accomplishments,” said Joanne Marier, JD and LSU Health New Orleans' Director Program in Health Law and Medical Ethics. “During his four years of medical school he was very involved in several programs that worked directly with community members. He has always worked very hard to improve community health far beyond the patients he sees in the clinic setting.”