Mississauga and Rexdale Hyundai car dealer Nav Bhatia – the Toronto Raptors’ Super Fan – is giving back to the country that became his new home 33 years ago and to his native homeland of India.
He is providing funding towards building basketball courts next year at the Paul Coffey Park in Malton.
“It’s so the kids can play, enjoy themselves, stay away from the gangs, the negative things,” he said. “Kids get together of all faiths and colour and play basketball. That’s what my passion is.”
He is also working with World Vision Canada, committing $200,000 to building girls washrooms at schools in a remote part of India. After he returned from a two-week trip to India, he came to the realization that poverty is the world’s biggest disease.
“We’ve got to continue doing, whatever we can, in order to give kids a chance,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where they are born, whom they are born to, what colour, what faith, what area…they deserve a chance. That’s what motivates me.”
He spends more than $300,000 every year buying Raptors’ tickets for kids who can’t afford them and sponsors events at home games that celebrate festivals of his Sikh religion.
Bhatia’s celebrity and generosity reached a super status back in September. He walked the red carpet at the Toronto International Film Festival because he appeared in the documentary about Raptors’ great Vince Carter.
“Walking the red carpets at TIFF and meeting all the big stars, it’s amazing,” he said. “I’m really, really blessed, but all the purpose at the end of the day is for me to reach out to the underprivileged, reach out to the people who need you the most. I try to do whatever I can, use my fandom, in order to achieve that.
“This is something I had a passion for, bringing our community and all the communities together through basketball.”