By Dorothy J. Gentry
Photos: Red Bull
Earlier this year, Dallas Wings star Arike Ogunbowale signed a multi-year contract extension to remain with the team through at least the 2025 season.
Since being drafted by the Wings in 2019, she has embraced the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and has repeatedly said she is “proud to call Dallas home.”
Now she is putting her money where her mouth is; literally.
Ogunbowale recently launched a season-long community giveback program called “Dallas Has Wiiings,” a collaboration between her and Red Bull, where every 3-point shot she makes this WNBA season will earn $800 towards new solar powered lighting systems at Dallas community courts in need of upgrades.
The “Dallas Has Wiiings” program runs from May 7 to August 14, and all accumulated funds up to $50,000 will be presented to the Dallas Parks and Recreation Department following the wrap of the season to support their restoration efforts.
“Dallas is my home, so being able to connect something that I do every night (playing basketball) with helping the community is amazing,” Ogunbowale said.
“Milwaukee was my home and now Dallas is home and where I will be for at least four more years and hopefully more. I want to make a stamp on the city,” she said. “The fans support me every night, every home game and I just want to give the support back.
The idea for the program, Ogunbowale said, stemmed from her desire to figure out how to tie her love of basketball with “something that could resonate with the community; especially with the youth with basketball and sports in general.
“That’s (sports) something that every kid wants to do and they want to have a safe place to go play. This program that wea re doing, it puts lights in the city around Dallas and makes it safe for kids.”
On May 11th, to celebrate the launch of the initiative, Ogunbowale took shots at a basket designed and built on a temporary court overlooking the Reunion Tower. From the official WNBA 3-point distance, and with family and friends in attendance, every time she knocked in a 3-point shot, a sphere of lights brightened on the tower ball. She continued this shooting session until she sank 10 3-pointers and all the lights of Reunion Tower lit up in the form of a massive basketball.
The outdoor event was MC’d by DJ Poizon Ivy of the Dallas Mavericks who interviewed Ogunobowale prior to her shooting baskets, spun hot sounds for background music, and encouraged those in attendance to cheer and encourage the 24-year-old WNBA star.
“We got it, we lit up the Reunion Tower! It was tough, but the ball lit up is proof and now I’m just excited to be lighting up courts around the city of Dallas,” Ogunbowale said after the Tower lit up the Dallas Skyiline.
Arun Agarwal, president of the Dallas Parks and Recreation Board, said: “More families are playing together for fun and fitness on park sports courts. Adding solar lighting will extend their time outdoors, letting them play well into the evenings.
“As stewards of our environment, we are excited to welcome green and sustainable technology to our park system,” she said. “Dallas Park and Recreation applauds Red Bull and Ms. Ogunbowale for their commitment to enhancing recreational experiences for Dallas families.”
The Dallas Wings are in the midst of a 5-game road trip. They return to Dallas next week and on June 10th begin a 5-game home stand at College Park Center on the campus of the University of Texas at Arlington.