He was once a handsome, much-loved basketball coach who gave his time to train young sports enthusiasts in Knox, Melbourne. A cruel cancer saw him lose a leg at 21 but this didn’t stop Ondray Ephraums from doing what he loved. When suddenly the cancer returned at 42 however, there wasn’t much hope left and Ephraums passed away, leaving his family, friends and students devastated.
Back home in Sri Lanka where Ondray was born, he had been a student of St. Joseph’s College in the Colombo suburb of Nugegoda. It was at this school where he developed a love of basketball. When he moved to Melbourne, he once again took to the basketball court, this time volunteering his free time to coaching youngsters at the Knox Basketball Club. He also never forgot his alma mater St. Joseph’s and organised several fund-raising events to collect money for the various needs of the disadvantaged school.
“Ondray never ever turned his back on his school,” his brother Jerome told D*scribe. “He always supported the school in whatever way he could.”
Among the fundraising events Ondray organised was a gala dinner dance, which he did annually from 2009. After his passing, when they were emotionally ready to pick up the pieces and move on, Ondray’s family members decided they had to continue his legacy.
“It was a promise my brother Jerome made to Ondray on his deathbed,” says Ondray’s sister Audrey Hunter. “In 2011, Jerome took on the reins of organising the dinner dance which Ondray had begun, so that the school in Sri Lanka would continue to receive the very welcome funds for their sports programs and other activities.”
This year’s dance raised $4200 dollars and the funds went towards sports equipment and renovations. Jerome said that, in the past, funds raised had gone towards buying a school bus and a piano, among other things.
“Whatever we do, we do in Ondray’s name,” Jerome said.
As for St. Joseph’s College, they are both proud of their past students who do so much for their old school as they are happy to receive much needed funds for the school.
“Ondray was a great source of strength to our school,” says current basketball coach Udayanga. “And the fact that his family continue to help us is extremely admirable. I can speak for the basketball team and say that their help has gone a long way in helping the team.”
Video of the fundraiser dinner dance can be watched below. Source: Sri Lanka Morning Show –