'Pay it forward': Marquette alums Dwyane Wade, Travis Diener create 'Champions of Literacy' to support Milwaukee youth

’Pay it forward’: Marquette alums Dwyane Wade, Travis Diener create ’Champions of Literacy’ to support Milwaukee youth

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Marquette alums Dwyane Wade and Travis Diener have reunited to share their love for basketball, healthy competition and helping others.

On Sunday, the two men joined dozens at Discovery World on Milwaukee's lakefront for day two of their three-day "Champions of Literacy" event that helps fund local youth literacy programs.

“Your fundamentals, what your house is built on is important and a lot of our youth don’t have the opportunity that others have," Wade told CBS 58's Ellie Nakamoto-White in a one-on-one interview. "To be successful in the world, you got to know how to communicate and a lot of that comes from reading, comes from writing, comes from comprehension, it comes from all these things literacy teaches you.”

Day one featured a private basketball camp for girls at The Facility in Mequon with coaching from Wade and Diener, but Sunday's event focused on the impact of books and writing with fundraising games like cornhole, dinner and drinks.

“It’s not just one way to live this life and it’s so many ways but to be able to live this life, there’s things you need to be successful in this world and that’s why it’s important for us to make sure we reach kids at a young age," the former NBA star said.

For both, this mission hits close to home.

“I grew up in the state, in Fond du Lac, and obviously went to school at Marquette so I’ve been in the city for a long time," Diener said. “I’ve been very fortunate but that’s because a lot of people sacrificed a lot of things for me, so in return I think it’s on me, it’s on people in our position to give back, and what better way than in the city that we live in?” 

Wade recalled his humble beginnings in the Brew City.

“Milwaukee has done so much for me, and I’ve went off and I’ve went to other places, but this is one of the places that accepted me with open arms as a kid," Wade said. "I came in as a Prop 48, I was academically ineligible and so I remember the struggle of me trying to pass the ACT to get into college and the struggle I had when it came to the comprehension of the test. It could've deterred my whole trajectory in life."

And as fathers, the two highlighted the importance of giving all children equal opportunities to succeed. 

"We just want to give it back as much as we can," Wade said. "When you know someone believes in you and is willing to make sure you have resources and opportunities, don't be too big to get help. We all need it. None of us are where we are today without someone pushing us and without someone helping us get there."

The culminating event of the weekend is an 18-hole Golf Outing at The Bog in Saukville on July 24, a news release said. It will include food, drinks and the opportunity to play alongside Wade and Diener. 

"Any dollar helps, any book helps," Diener said. "We just want to get this event on everyone's radar and hopefully in the future we can keep growing and growing and growing."

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