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Nurturing Hope and Healing: Conversing with Andrew Atiyeh, Co-Founder of KNT Basketball

As September approaches, a month dedicated to National Suicide Prevention, the urgency of cultivating awareness, open dialogue, and a support system for suicide prevention becomes more pronounced. Throughout the year, Preventive Measures strives to provide inspiration and hope for those navigating the intricate realm of mental health. A remarkable endeavor exemplifying this commitment is the annual KNT Basketball Tournament. Co-founded and orchestrated by Andrew Atiyeh, Hamp Smith Jr. and Brandon Vigo, this event signifies not just a competition, but an enduring dedication to raising funds, awareness, and conversations about suicide prevention. In collaboration with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the KNT Basketball Tournament has evolved into a symbol of unity, resilience, and hope within Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley community. Becky Darrell of the AFSP highlights how the tournament effectively engages and fosters inclusivity across genders and athletes in the community. “The event not only expanded team participation but also generated awareness among both players and spectators. The KNT Tournament has evolved beyond basketball, providing a secure haven for those impacted by suicide and emphasizing that individuals facing mental health challenges are supported.”

Preventive Measures has been a World Champion Sponsor of the KNT Tournament and remains devoted to its cause. In addition to actively supporting the tournament for multiple years, the organization sat down with one of the co-founders, Andrew Atiyeh to delve into the lasting impact of the initiative.

Q: What was the inspiration behind launching the Tournament?

Andrew Atiyeh: "My team and I initiated this basketball tournament as a tribute to our friend, Kobee Nyro Texter, who tragically lost his battle with suicide. We sought to honor his memory while providing resources and education to our community on recognizing and addressing the mental health crisis."

Q: Can you share about your relationship with your friend, Kobee?

Andrew Atiyeh: "Kobee and I were friends for around a decade. While some of our KNT staff members had known him for most of their lives, we all played basketball together during high school and beyond. Though we might not have been as close as some of our other friends, his passing left a profound impact."

Q: What does the KNT Basketball Tournament represent?

Andrew Atiyeh: "To me, the tournament symbolizes the prospect of a second chance—of saving lives by fostering education within ourselves and our communities. For more information, please visit our website.”

Q: Congratulations on almost 20K raised!!!!!!!!! Where are the funds raised by the KNT Tournament directed to support? Is there a specific initiative? How do they help?

Andrew Atiyeh: “The funds raised go to the local AFSP, Lehigh Valley Chapter. They are directed to support those in our community who have struggled with depression and families of those who have lost loved ones to suicide.”

Q: You have made remarkable strides since the launch of this initiative in 2021. What are your goals for next year’s tournament?

Andrew Atiyeh: “We have brought on some more talent to our KNT staff to help with some ideas and to help us reach our goals. Our main goal for next year is to have an impact not just in the Lehigh Valley but really reach other states as well, hopefully bringing people from out of state to participate and support.”

Q: How can the community and other organizations support the cause and promote awareness?

Andrew Atiyeh: “They can support by having a part in the event and leading up to it. Whether it is sponsoring the event, sharing the event or just being there, it shows everyone that they have a vested interest in the mental well-being of all in our community.” For more information, please visit our website and donor page

Q: AFSP has sponsored the event for two consecutive years. How did this partnership develop, and how have they supported your goals?

Andrew Atiyeh: "Our collaboration with AFSP was a close-knit effort, aligning our visions for the tournament. With their assistance, we secured the necessary funding and resources, transforming the event into a genuine nonprofit endeavor—the first of its kind."

Q: Can you tell us about this year's competition? Did your team emerge victorious?

Andrew Atiyeh: "This year, we faced formidable competition—from recreational players to those with overseas or professional experience. While the KNT team didn't secure victory on the court, we triumphed in our mission to touch the community. The resounding positive feedback from the last three tournaments underscores our success in reaching hearts."

Q: What core message do you hope to convey through your efforts?

Andrew Atiyeh: "Remember that you're not alone—everyone grapples with life's anxieties. It's crucial that we openly discuss and lend an ear to others. The tournament's theme this year encapsulates this sentiment: 'My community is my anchor.' Just as an anchor steadies a boat during a storm at sea, we must provide the same stability to those facing mental health crises."

Thank you, Andrew, for generously sharing your time and unwavering dedication to keeping Kobee's memory alive through the KNT Basketball Tournament. Your passion for raising awareness and creating meaningful change in the realm of mental health is truly inspiring. As we conclude this conversation, let's stay connected to witness the continued growth and impact of this incredible initiative.

For further information:

KNT Basketball Tournament's donor page

Stay connected on social media: Follow @KNTbasketball for updates.


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