Percival ‘Wenty’ Ford is a sports legend, and to carry on his legacy, his daughter Dr. Wentia Ford has officially launched a non-profit organization, the Wenty Ford Sports Foundation. That launch occurred earlier this month and the aim is to develop young people.
Wenty Ford, as he was affectionately called, was the first Bahamian pitcher to play in Major League Baseball (MLB), suiting up for the Atlanta Braves in 1973, officially entering the professional ranks with the club’s minor system in 1966. He also played for the first national cricket team of The Bahamas.
The foundation will be targeting inner city schools such as Stephen Dillet Primary School where students can do both sports and academics in an after-school program setting. They are looking to start with baseball and softball, once there is enough girls, and adequate funding. As the year progresses, organizers will attempt to add different sports, looking to secure scholarships in the future for the children. The target age group is 5-12 years old.
“There is sports development and the other part of the program is academic growth,” Dr. Ford said. “It is very important for the children, so two days out of the week will be dedicated to tutoring and homework. I plan on offering stipends to the teachers and coaches to help them.”
The foundation has a target date of September 2023 to be up and running, 50 years after Ford made his debut in MLB. It will run concurrently with the academic school year. Organizers are looking to develop leadership skills, provide mentorship, instill moral values and implement community service to help the student-athlete learn about giving back to the community. There is a GPA (grade point average) minimum requirement of 2.5 and a minimum of 2.0 in their subjects to be a part of the program.
After she went through scrapbooks of her father, Dr. Ford came across a letter from the Braves congratulating her father on his appearance on his first MLB game which was dated September 1973.
“What better time than now to start this foundation, at the 50th year of his appearance in MLB and 50th year of The Bahamas’ Independence. It is just an opportune time and now I am in a position where I can dedicate my time to the foundation and get it going. As a Bahamian, I feel it is my duty to give back to my country,” Ford said.
Ford said she has done humanitarian trips to Haiti and West Africa so it is time for her to give back to her country while maintaining the legacy of her father.
“Words cannot describe how I truly feel. I am honored and privileged to even have a father who is a legend in The Bahamas. To be able to give back and maintain my father’s legacy, is a great feeling. It is important to me to give back, especially to the youth who need it,” Ford said.
Dr. Ford is looking at starting off with 50 student-athletes once the funds for the foundation allow her to do so. Persons who are interested in finding out more information can visit the website, www.wentyfordsportsfoundation.com.