Gonzaga's Palmer Gets A Little Crazy Giving Back - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Gonzaga's Palmer Gets A Little Crazy Giving Back

Posted:
SWX's Michelle Dapper caught up with Haiden Palmer's special guest, Crazy, at halftime of the Gonzaga women's basketball game vs, LMU on Saturday. SWX's Michelle Dapper caught up with Haiden Palmer's special guest, Crazy, at halftime of the Gonzaga women's basketball game vs, LMU on Saturday.

Courtesy Gonzaga Athletics

SPOKANE, Wash. — For a couple hours on a wintry November day, the man affectionately known as Crazy acted like every other fan inside the McCarthey Athletic Center. He gyrated to the music blaring over the arena’s speakers. He proudly displayed his homemade sign for the television cameras. He even hooted and hollered for the Zags as they demolished another overmatched foe.

Following the game, in what has become a tradition for the Gonzaga women’s basketball team, the players returned to the court to sign autographs and take pictures with their adoring fans. Crazy, though, cared about only one player — his friend, Haiden Palmer.

He waited patiently as she slowly made her way through the gaggle of fans. Finally, she spotted him. They embraced and exchanged a few words. They smiled and posed for pictures. In this moment, Crazy was no different from any other follower of Bulldog basketball.

Eventually, with the last autograph signed and the final picture taken, the fans filed out of the building and into the cold night. They jumped in their vehicles and headed for the warmth and coziness of their homes. All except for Crazy. He has no home. He is one of the city’s approximately 1,300 homeless people.

“They are just human, too, and most of them are happy,” Palmer said. “They are just so thankful for a simple meal or clothes. It has really changed my perspective on life and made me a lot more thankful.”

Palmer, a senior standout who leads the Bulldogs in scoring and steals, met Crazy while volunteering for Blessings Under the Bridge. In addition to providing things like clothing, blankets and haircuts, this non-profit organization has coordinated weekly communal meals for Spokane’s homeless since 2007. Volunteers like Palmer spend their Wednesday evenings serving those meals under the I-90 overpass.

“Helping other people helps you because it teaches you so much,” Palmer said. “Crazy is so optimistic. He is a homeless guy who just loves life, and he always says, ‘Smile, what do you have to be upset about?’ ”

After spending some time together, Palmer learned about Crazy’s love for basketball. He used to play he would often tell her. So, Palmer decided to invite him to a game. He could have some fun, she figured, and escape the bitterness of Spokane’s frigid winters, if only for a few hours.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I always wanted to help those who were struggling,” she said, “partly because I have struggled and I know how much it helps when you have somebody who helps, or just smiles at you.”

On Sunday, Palmer will join Crazy and other people involved with Blessings Under the Bridge for the Smile Movement, which is dedicated to uplifting and healing the world by being a presence of positive change. They will spread throughout downtown Spokane and hold signs that read, “Smile, it’s more fun.”

A native of Moreno Valley, Calif., Palmer first became involved in Blessings Under the Bridge through her Bible study group. Faith has always been an important part of her life, Palmer says, but as she has matured so too has her relationship with God.

“Growing up, what I would mostly think about is what you’re not supposed to do,” she said. “When I got older, I started to look more into the spiritual side of it and the idea of just loving God and loving people.”

Palmer says basketball is the vehicle, given to her by God, through which she can achieve the greatest good. Indeed, her list of off-the-court service activities is as long as her catalog of on-court accolades.

“I realize that basketball is a gift for a reason,” Palmer said. “I’m supposed to use that for Him, to help others.”

In addition to Blessings Under the Bridge, which she holds closest to her heart, Palmer has volunteered at the West Central Community Center, which offers social, health, education and recreation services to low-income families in the area. While working there, she organized an afterschool basketball program and an end-of-summer barbecue.

Palmer is also regularly involved with the Hutton Settlement, which provides a safe and healthy home to children in need. She spends Tuesday nights there, tutoring the residents. She is particularly close to a young boy at Hutton who, like Palmer, has an affinity for hoops. She says he is talented, but needs to improve his grades. She is determined to help him.

“It’s not just about me anymore,” said Palmer, who is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Communication and Leadership Studies.

A professional basketball career surely awaits Palmer when her time at Gonzaga ends, but her aspirations extend well beyond the court. Her goals include eventually opening her own community center, complete with a computer lab, kitchen and, of course, a gymnasium.

“It’s easy to get caught up in worldly things, like playing bad or losing a game,” she said. “Whenever that happens, I just try to count my blessings and realize how fortunate I am. I know I got here because of God, and I’m just trying to give back what I’ve been given.”

  • College SportsCollegeMore>>

  • Zags Top WSU 7-2

    Zags Top WSU 7-2

    Payden Cawley Lamb and Sam Brown each drove home two runs as the Gonzaga University baseball team triumphed over Washington State University 7-2 Tuesday night at Bailey-Brayton Field.More >>
    Payden Cawley Lamb and Sam Brown each drove home two runs as the Gonzaga University baseball team triumphed over Washington State University 7-2 Tuesday night at Bailey-Brayton Field.More >>
  • Idaho's Butterworth Named WAC Track Athlete of the Week

    Idaho's Butterworth Named WAC Track Athlete of the Week

    Idaho’s Alycia Butterworth has been named the Western Athletic Conference Women’s Track Athlete of the Week, for April 14-20, the conference announced on Tuesday.More >>
    Idaho’s Alycia Butterworth has been named the Western Athletic Conference Women’s Track Athlete of the Week, for April 14-20, the conference announced on Tuesday.More >>
  • Fortier, Zag Women Add German Star to Roster

    Fortier, Zag Women Add German Star to Roster

    Emma Stach has signed a letter-of-intent to attend Gonzaga University this fall, Bulldog women’s basketball head coach Lisa Fortier announced Tuesday. Stach has had a prolific playing career already in Germany; one that started at the ripe-old-age of 13.More >>
    Emma Stach has signed a letter-of-intent to attend Gonzaga University this fall, Bulldog women’s basketball head coach Lisa Fortier announced Tuesday. Stach has had a prolific playing career already in Germany; one that started at the ripe-old-age of 13.More >>
  • Extra PointsExtra PointsMore>>

  • Successful Mud Bog Event at SCR Leads to Schedule Change

    Successful Mud Bog Event at SCR Leads to Schedule Change

    Hundreds of fans made it out to enjoy the first-ever “Mud Bog” experience at SCR last Saturday, April 19. Spectator turn-out exceeded the 2013 opener, another step forward for the facility.More >>
    Hundreds of fans made it out to enjoy the first-ever “Mud Bog” experience at SCR last Saturday, April 19. Spectator turn-out exceeded the 2013 opener, another step forward for the facility.More >>
  • Mud Bog Races Coming to SCR

    Mud Bog Races Coming to SCR

    It's that time of year again, racing season officially kicks off this Saturday at the Spokane County Raceway with the first of 10, planned “Mud Bog” events. Mud Bog racing is a popular off-road motor sport where beefed up vehicles attempt to sprint through a large pit of…you guessed it…mud.More >>
    It's that time of year again, racing season officially kicks off this Saturday at the Spokane County Raceway with the first of 10, planned “Mud Bog” events. Mud Bog racing is a popular off-road motor sport where beefed up vehicles attempt to sprint through a large pit of…you guessed it…mud.More >>
  • Reviewing OOTP '15, Mariners Still Break Hearts in Baseball Video Game

    Reviewing OOTP '15, Mariners Still Break Hearts in Baseball Video Game

    This lengthy build-up leads me to one sincere question: Did the 2001 season doom the Seattle Mariners franchise? If the M's had won the World Series that year, would we be talking about a dynasty? Out of the Park Baseball 15 allows baseball fans to answer that question.
    More >>
    This lengthy build-up leads me to one sincere question: Did the 2001 season doom the Seattle Mariners franchise? If the M's had won the World Series that year, would we be talking about a dynasty? Out of the Park Baseball 15 allows baseball fans to answer that question.

    More >>
  • GonzagaGonzagaMore>>

  • Fortier, Zag Women Add German Star to Roster

    Fortier, Zag Women Add German Star to Roster

    Emma Stach has signed a letter-of-intent to attend Gonzaga University this fall, Bulldog women’s basketball head coach Lisa Fortier announced Tuesday. Stach has had a prolific playing career already in Germany; one that started at the ripe-old-age of 13.More >>
    Emma Stach has signed a letter-of-intent to attend Gonzaga University this fall, Bulldog women’s basketball head coach Lisa Fortier announced Tuesday. Stach has had a prolific playing career already in Germany; one that started at the ripe-old-age of 13.More >>
  • Zags Top WSU 7-2

    Zags Top WSU 7-2

    Payden Cawley Lamb and Sam Brown each drove home two runs as the Gonzaga University baseball team triumphed over Washington State University 7-2 Tuesday night at Bailey-Brayton Field.More >>
    Payden Cawley Lamb and Sam Brown each drove home two runs as the Gonzaga University baseball team triumphed over Washington State University 7-2 Tuesday night at Bailey-Brayton Field.More >>
  • Cawley Lamb Named WCC Player of the Week

    Cawley Lamb Named WCC Player of the Week

    Monday, April 21 2014 10:42 PM EDT2014-04-22 02:42:55 GMT
    Gonzaga University senior Payden Cawley Lamb was named West Coast Conference Baseball Player of the Week, announced the league office Monday.More >>
    Gonzaga University senior Payden Cawley Lamb was named West Coast Conference Baseball Player of the Week, announced the league office Monday.
    More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and SWXRN. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.