By Greg Johnson
As part of the 2013 Women’s Final Four Salute Premiere Friday night, four members of the New Orleans community will be honored during the festivities at Mardi Gras World in New Orleans.
The Salute Heroes being honored are Gretchen Bradford, Barbara Farris, Ashley Tappin-Doussan and Connie Uddo.
All are being recognized at the Salute Premiere, which is an event for fans to honor the student-athletes on the four participating teams. The four are being recognized for their positive impact on the New Orleans community.
“The Women’s Final Four is about leaving a lasting legacy in the host city, and we wanted to be able to recognize several heroes from New Orleans who have gone above and beyond to improve their community,” said Anucha Browne, NCAA vice president of women’s basketball championships. “All four epitomize the community spirit of New Orleans, and it is an important life lesson for our student-athletes to see what positive things can be done when we all work together for the common good.”
Following are summaries of the four Salute Heroes:
Bradford is the president of the Pontchartrain Park Neighborhood Association. After Hurricane Katrina, she played a critical role in the revitalization of Pontchatrain Park by organizing and leading monthly meetings to bring awareness to the needs of the community. Bradford served on the committee to restore and rebuild the NORDC Barrow Stadium. She is a co-founder of the Gentilly Festival Incorporated and organizer of the Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration in New Orleans.
Since 2010, Farris has assisted the youth of New Orleans as coach of the John Curtis Christian School girls basketball team. She coached the team to a state championship in 2012. She is a former student-athlete at Tulane where she played from 1994-98. Farris was inducted into the Tulane Hall of Fame in 2004. She went on to play for the Detroit Shock from 2000-05 and won a WNBA championship in 2003. She was also a member of the New York Liberty from 2006-07. Farris also played professionally in France, Spain and Korea, as well as for the New England team in the American Basketball League.
Tappin-Doussan is a three-time Olympic gold medal winner in swimming (400-meter relay) and the former head swimming coach at the University of New Orleans. She is the founder of the nonprofit Hartley’s Hearts foundation, created in March 2011 and named after her daughter, who was born with two holes in her heart. The foundation’s primary goal is to organize and fund medical mission trips to countries that are without pediatric heart surgeons and medical teams in place to perform necessary surgeries. Tappin-Doussan competed in both the 1992 and 2000 Summer Olympic Games, winning gold medals in swimming. She is a veteran celebrity swimmer for Swim Across America, a charitable organization that raises funds for cancer research.
Uddo is a Hurricane Katrina recovery hero. She is the executive director of Hike for KaTREEna and St. Paul’s Homecoming Center, which are organizations committed to the rebirth of New Orleans. Hike for KaTREEna coordinates volunteer projects to replant trees lost due to the 2005 storm. St. Paul’s matches volunteer groups with community-service projects.
Note: Tickets for the 2013 Women’s Final Four Salute Premiere are available at NCAA.com/tickets.