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Iowa Wolves celebrate diverse communities across the state

Just like the NBA, G-League players have a chance at a professional basketball career. The Iowa Wolves are using the platform to showcase diverse communities.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Fans watched and cheered as Mexican folklorico dancers to the floor for Tuesday night's halftime performance at Wells Fargo Arena.

It was just one part of the Hispanic heritage celebration night put on by the Iowa Wolves.

In addition to infusing elements of Hispanic culture throughout the gameday experience, players also wore special uniforms designed by local artists.

"I love them, actually," said Wolves forward Malik Benlevi. "Like, the shorts are cold. The shorts are nice. The jerseys are really nice too. but I like the shorts the most, though."

Those jerseys are then auctioned off with the proceeds going to local non-profits like Al Exito.

"Al Exito has many umbrella organizations and one of them is |drēm|sēd|, which is the organization we're here with today," said |drēm|sēd| facilitator Orlando Fuentes. "So, [|drēm|sēd|] is a youth-led business that aspires to work with other Latinx organizations to help broaden and diversify their customer base and create a sense of giving in the Latinx community."

In February, the Wolves partnered with Principal Financial and ArtForce Iowa to host themed nights like these to celebrate the diverse communities across Iowa.

"The wolves reached out wanting to do something that would bring community together using their players and their venue as an opportunity to both educate and inspire and engage," said Director of the Principal Foundation and community relations Jo Christine Miles. "Principal being a longtime community presence supporting many great initiatives in Des Moines couldn't pass up the opportunity to melt sports, art and history in a way that would bring new audiences to the game and new audiences to the information that would be prompted by the jerseys that the players are wearing." 

Just as they set out to do, the organization is helping give voice to those who may not otherwise have the platform.

"The feedback has been terrific," said Wolves Vice President of Marketing and Business Development Chip Albright. "For me, probably the biggest takeaways is meeting so many different people from other groups that are just extremely supportive, and want to be a part of it and everyone just trying to amplify their message a little bit together."

The Wolves will be hosting two more themed nights. Thursday, March 31 is LBGTQ+ pride night and Friday, April 1 is mental health awareness night. You can buy tickets to the games here.

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