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48 Baskets: 7,716 Miles, 11,853 Minutes, $11,000 for Guatemalan Kids

SAN DIEGO, CA (April 30, 2010) – It may have been one of the most satisfying baskets that Richard “Coach Ricardo” Paff ever sank.

On April 21, he drove to the hoop on the outdoor court in Umatilla, Oregon, and laid up the final shot of a 48-state journey in which he and two companions sank a ball in every state. In so doing they set a record, completing their trip in eight days, five hours, and 33 minutes. They traveled 7,716 miles.

When the final ball fell through the hoop, Paff says, “It was just a great feeling of accomplishment.” The top photo shows Paff launching the final basket while John Baker observes with his finger poised on the stopwatch.

Paff, a member of College Center Covenant Church in San Diego, California, made the dash across the country with his son-in-law, John Baker, and friend, Jack Davis. They started in Nipton, California, on April 12.

Nobody kept score, but there is no doubt the winners are the kids who attend New Dawning Christian School in San Juan La Laguna, Guatemala. The trio’s dash across the country was a fundraiser for the school and has raised roughly $11,000 towards a goal of $26,000, Paff says.

Paff and other members of the church have made multiple trips to the school over the past seven years. As part of their ministry, the church had constructed an outdoor basketball court several years ago because the children needed a place to play. The court also serves as a gathering place for school assemblies, music, dramas, and other activities.

The money donated to the cross-country fundraiser will go towards building a roof for the court. The climate is rainy and the roof will enable the school to hold the activities regardless of the weather. The project also will include building a stage at one end of the court.

The men paid all their own expenses for the trip. One of Paff’s favorite stops was at Pilgrim Pines Conference Center in Swanzey, New Hampshire.  A roadside marquee announced their arrival. Members of Monadnok Covenant Church came out in the rain on a cold night to greet the trio (lower photo).

“The reception we had at Pilgrim Pines was wonderful,” Paff says. “It was really special.”

The camp’s executive director, Dave Cairns, invited the men to shoot the basket at the camp after he read a Covenant News Service story about the cross-country trip. Covenant Roasters mailed coffee to a stop the men had scheduled in South Dakota, and another Covenanter offered lodging, but the timeframe didn’t work.

People at several stops along the route heard about the men’s trip and turned out to watch. “We had no idea we would meet so many people,” Paff says.

The men traveled in a Chevrolet Impala with three basketballs, their suitcases and some snacks. They stayed in motels and hotels most nights. “We promised our wives that we would get at least four hours sleep,” Paff says.

A former coach, Paff confesses to being a “basketball junkie.” He plays three or five times a week, including in an over-60 league, and participates in the Senior National Olympics.

Shooting a basket in 48 states had been a dream of Paff’s for 20 years. Will he do it again?

“I don’t think so,” he says, laughing.

To read a blog highlighting their travels, click here.

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  • Covenant Companion

    The Communications staff at The Evangelical Covenant Church works to bring you the most complete information on the stories that matter to the Covenant.

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