This is a big week for Donald “Ducky” Birts, who is working diligently to put together his big event. On Saturday, April 23, The Ducky Birts Foundation will hold its Sixth Annual Medallion Scholarship banquet at First District Plaza, 3801 Market St.
The banquet will have a reception at 6 p.m. The dinner will start at 7 p.m. and the program will kickoff at 8 p.m. The event provides scholarships to students attending Lincoln and Cheyney Universities. Birts knows that education is the key to success.
“I do this event every year to help Cheyney and Lincoln University for scholarships,” Birts said. “I want to help the students from these schools. They’re both small state schools. I want to help the kids succeed.”
Birts cares about people. He knows the importance of helping young people. That’s why he started his foundation. He also plans to reach out to younger people as well.
“I want to start a building for the kids in fourth, fifth and sixth grades,” Birts said. “I want them to learn about government relations and economics. These are two things that run the country. I learned that when I was in high school. I want these kids to become doctors, lawyers and good business people.
“I’ve tried to get as many high profile people involved with this effort. I want to help the community. If we don’t do this, nobody is going to do it. I learned a lot over the years from people like Rev. Leon Sullivan. He’s the best. I got trained by the best. I supported him. I was not a liability. I was an asset.”
Birts has been an asset in business, politics and as a community leader. Moreover, he was a terrific athlete. There weren’t many athletes like him coming out of Camden High School. He was an All South Jersey performer in football, basketball and baseball in 1954 and 1955. He was a two-year starter for legendary basketball coach Tony Alfano. He was the team’s leading scorer. He led Camden High to the South Jersey Group 4 championship.
Birts was not only a great basketball player in New Jersey, but also in Philadelphia. He developed quite a name for himself playing basketball in Philly. In 1956, he played a lot of independent league basketball, which featured a number of outstanding players across the city.
After his playing days were over, he was an assistant coach under Alfano during the years of basketball greats Ron “Itchy” Smith and Sonny Sunkett. Birts owned a clothing store for several years called “Ducky’s Dashery,” which happened to be the name of the team he coached in the Charles Baker League. He was the best dressed coach in the league. He also coached some great players such as John Baum, Charlie Scott, Ollie Johnson, Sonny Jackson, John “Chubby” Cox, Davey Hamilton and others.
“Basketball gave me the wide scope of understanding people,” Birts said. “I learned how to win and how to lose. You can go to different towns and communities. You develop relationships with people. Through basketball, I met people in Camden as well as Philly. I have a lot of friends like Tee Parham, Jimmy Sadler, Jay Norman, Joe Howell and so many others. I came up with those guys. I played basketball with them. You develop friendships. You help people.”
NOTES: Tickets are $75 each and two for $125 to the scholarship dinner. For more information, call (215) 242-1220. The foundation will also have a health fair and Gospelrama on Saturday, April 28 from noon to 3 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Zion Baptist Church, Broad and Venango streets.