Eleven-year old Jacob Desormeaux's first trip to the Staples Center for a Los Angeles Clippers game last week was unlike anything most people get to experience at a basketball game.
Jacob and 92 of his closest friends attended the Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves game for free on Jan. 19. Eye on Jacob, a non-profit organization based in La Cañada, received 100 free tickets, along with several other local non-profits for the game, from Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
Jacob got to go down on the court after the game and shake hands with Sterling, but opted not to tell him he didn't know there was another basketball team in Los Angeles besides the Lakers.
Sonia Desormeaux, founder of Eye on Jacob and Jacob's mother, used the 100 free tickets as an opportunity to thank the organization's supporters and contributors over the years.
Eye on Jacob is the first and only non-profit organization dedicated to supporting research for the treatment of Usher Syndrome, a rare disease characterized by degenerative hearing and vision loss. The organization was inspired by Jacob's battle with the disease and has raised an estimated $260,000 in its two-year existence, Sonia said.
"It was our way to give back to [our supporters]," said Sonia, who didn't charge for any of the tickets. "We just wanted it to be a fun night for all the families. It was a little something to give back to them and tell them thank you."
At halftime, the Clipper's welcomed all the non-profit organizations who were in attendance by flashing all of the names, including Eye on Jacob, on the stadium's jumbotron. It made Jacob feel like the "hero of the evening," Sonia said.
It wasn't the first time Eye on Jacob has been showcased at a sporting event. The organization was featured at the Kentucky Derby last year, and will be again this February, when it hosts a dinner and silent auction. The non-profit has a connection with the Kentucky Derby because Jacob's dad, Kent Desormeaux, is a hall-of -fame jockey who has won the event three times.
There is plenty more in store for Eye on Jacob, too. Jacob wants to throw a bowling party with his friends in the next few months and the organization is in the preliminary stages of planning a celebrity softball game and fashion show. The softball game will be hosted sometime in the spring and the fashion show will be featured in one of the summer months.
For more information on Eye on Jacob and upcoming events, visit the organization's website at www.eyeonjacob.org.