It has been well-established that Chris Holtmann’s first days at Ohio State were a bit of a whirlwind. Dragged in all different directions after being hired in early June 2017, the new men’s basketball coach received a few pieces of advice from his predecessor, Thad Matta.
One of them involved a charity, A Kid Again. Roughly 11 months later, Holtmann and his wife, Lori, took the advice to heart and served as the honorary chairs for the organization’s annual fundraiser, Time Out 2018.
Of all the decisions the Holtmanns have had to make since leaving Butler, this was among the easiest.
“We play a really small role in this, and we’re just excited to be a part of the night and figure out what it’s all about for ourselves, too,” Holtmann said from the VIP area inside the Greater Columbus Convention Center on Saturday evening. “They’ve met with us and we’ve had some conversations with them, but this is our first time trying to figure out what it’s all about.”
A special thanks to our co-chairs Chris and Lori Holtmann! And our own kids for their incredible artwork! #aka #timeout2018 #to2018 pic.twitter.com/fYtge4SxSo— A Kid Again (@akidagain) May 13, 2018
Founded 23 years ago, A Kid Again raises funds to provide opportunities for children facing life-threatening illnesses as well as their parents, siblings and caregivers.
Oyauma Garrison, president and CEO of A Kid Again, said the organization has directly assisted more than 54,000 families while it has expanded throughout Ohio and now, as of April 30, into Indianapolis. Described by Garrison as “condition and illness agnostic,” the organization helps brighten the lives of families who struggle with enormous financial responsibilities in addition to the medical conditions themselves.
The opportunity to work with the Holtmanns was the continuation of what has been a long-standing relationship with Ohio State athletics that has lasted for two decades.
“When the founder and I met with Chris Holtmann and talked about the organization, within five minutes he was like, ‘Sign me up,’ ” Garrison said. “So here we are today. The other great piece is (the Holtmanns) are truly humanitarians. In all of our conversations we’ve had, that’s what it’s been about: How do we continue to be a stronger community? How do we continue to help those who are in need?
Lori Holtmann said she had early conversations with Barb Matta, Thad’s wife, about the organization. Now living in Indianapolis, Barb Matta is involved with the chapter that has been opened there. Lori Holtmann said she plans to become more involved locally, too.
“(Our daughter) Nora and I are going to participate in some of the adventures they have planned and meet some families and get to know the organization a little more intimately,” she said. “One of the exciting things is they’re expanding to Indianapolis. Maybe we can use some of our contacts in Indy to help advance the effort there.”
Former Ohio State men’s basketball players Rick Smith, Matt Terwilliger and Mark Titus, the last of whom raised awareness and funds for the charity while in college, were on hand for the event, as were assistant coaches Ryan Pedon and Terry Johnson and their wives. Attendees could bid on silent auction items that included a signed shirt and shorts from the 2017-18 team as well as a Clark Kellogg autographed basketball.
Before taking part in a question-and-answer session with radio broadcaster Paul Keels, Holtmann and his wife were presented with a framed family drawing created by a child from A Kid Again.
During the event, Holtmann again said the possibility of an ongoing yearly series featuring Ohio State, Cincinnati, Xavier and Dayton remains on the radar but is “a few years away” while adding that they are looking at playing occasionally at St. John Arena. Asked what he’s learned about being a Buckeye, Holtmann said he’s really been moved by “how strong the community is here, both in Columbus and at Ohio State. We just had a recruit in today and one of the things we talk about is the strength of this place.”
In addition to providing some entertainment for the attendees, Holtmann said his hopes for the evening were simple.
“More than anything you hope to try to raise some awareness of what the organization does and how people in the community can help them do more, do more for more kids,” Chris Holtmann said. “I think that’s the biggest thing. We’re obviously committing to giving financially ourselves, but as important we want them to know, can we raise some awareness about A Kid Again and the organization and their purpose. That’s what we’re trying to do.”