Love for basketball connects Bristol to The Bahamas


BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) A friendship that started 20 years ago has played a big role in the relief efforts for the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian swept through in late August.

Tabernacle Baptist Academy has returned to the Tri-Cities to play in the Arby’s Classic. The school has been playing in the tournament for years.

Now, basketball fans and the Bristol community have raised more than $50,000 to help the school and the Bahamas.

A love for basketball has connected Bristol, Tennessee with the Bahamas for more than 20 years. Hurricane Dorian only strengthened the bond.

“When the hurricane took place and we realized what kind of shape they were in, there was probably four groups of people that really helped establish a relief fund,” retired Tennessee High coach, Dale Burns said.

Hurricane Dorian claimed at least 70 lives, devastating Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands {Pron: aw-BAW-koh}. Tabernacle Baptist Academy is located on Grand Bahama.

“Those two islands were hit tremendously,” Norris Bain said. “I mean the storm had actually stopped. It just came to a complete stop for like 36-48 hours and just pounding those two islands.”

Norris Bain is in town for the Arby’s Classic who play Hampton in the Tennessee High gym, Friday afternoon. He and Burns have a friendship that dates back to more than 20 years. At the time, Bain was the basketball coach for Tabernacle and Burns was the Tennessee High basketball coach, and started the Arby’s Classic.

Burns led the effort to help the Falcons when he learned about the impact Dorian made.

“We provided them with 20 computers, Tenessee High did, but there’s so many little things that you don’t think about when you think about renovation,” Burns said.

Bain said, “When the storm hit, he brought hundreds of water, towels, clothing etc., for us too to give to our neighbors, our friends, our church members. We’ve given out so much things as a result of the relationship that we started 20 years ago.”

Bain’s home was among those destroyed on Grand Bahama.

“His house is just a frame and a roof and a concrete, but there’s things they need to do at the school,” Burns said.

Bain’s son made headlines in September, after an interview following a nail-biting game between Stephen F. Austin University and Duke University, brought attention to the cause, eventually raising about $150,000 for his family.

Bain said, “Right after Dorian, the school started a GoFundMe account. The GoFundMe account had some traction. It had about $2,000 in it. And they went into the game against Duke. Score was tied with five seconds to go. The ball comes out to him, takes it to land of the court, lays it up.”

Bain’s son scored the winning basket that night.

“They did an interview with him and he starts talking about the damage to those two islands in the Bahamas. The GoFundMe account went from $2,000 in one night, to over $50,000. Then, it kept climbing. It got up to $80,000, then it got to $100,000. I think today it’s at about $151,000 that has been given to him to rebuild our lives,” Bain said.

“It’s going to rebuild a lot of things that people need, and it’s just really been a blessing to where it is right now. We’re just in the process of getting that distributed,” Bain’s son, Nathan Bain told Pheben Kassahun in a Facetime chat.

Bain said, “But being the people who we are, we can’t be selfish. We’re going to definitely do everything in our power to get our lives back together, but we’re certainly going to help our neighbors and the people who were also impacted by Dorian.”

Bain said other families had it worse, and that he is grateful.

Bain said, “It takes two to three years to rebuild a house, overtime, by God’s grace, I can get that house rebuilt, but I think about the people who have lost loved ones that would never get to see them again on this side of eternity.”

The fundraiser to help Tabernacle Baptist Academy is still going. To donate, click here.

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