NBA Thanks Bulls Front Office for Charity Work

Honored for building home in Cambodia

Two members of the Chicago Bulls were honored by the NBA for outstanding work. It wasn't a player or a coach, and it wasn't for getting the most points or rebounds. Joe O'Neil, the senior director of ticket operations, and Bill Smith, the photographer for the Bulls, Blackhawks and United Center, were given the NBA's Value of the Game Award for their humanitarian work in Cambodia.

Smith and O'Neil have worked rescuing children who lived in a garbage dump in Phnom Penh. Smith first encountered these children when on a trip to southeast Asia, and his guide brought him to the dump. He was horrified to see children foraging through the trash to earn money, and was immediately moved to do something about it. Smith and his wife began by paying to keep three girls out of the dumps, and in schools. From there, Smith continued to return to Cambodia often, and sponsor more and more children.

As friends began to hear what Smith and his wife were up to, they gave money to help. This grew to the point where Joe O'Neil joined in, gave a hand in fundraising, and accompanied Smith on a trip to Cambodia. The two men started a not-for-profit organization, A New Day in Cambodia, to build a center for the children to live in and go to school. They did all of this while working demanding jobs with the Bulls. According to Smith, when the center opened:

It was emotional, gratifying, and a unforgettable experience to watch their faces as one by one the children marched (with all their worldly belongings on their back) into their new residence. Their excitement was contagious and emotional; there wasn’t a dry eye to be found.

Best of all, Smith and O'Neil are known to be extremely humble about their accomplishments. That just makes them even more deserving of the award.

Make a contribution to A New Day in Cambodia here

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