In late December, the Laguna Beach High School Boys Basketball Team partnered with the City of Hope Cancer Center to host the first-ever blood donation drive at LBHS. More than 80 people registered to donate blood, maxing out the number of spots available in a single day for blood donations. Almost those who registered, around 70 donated blood, which is believed to be a record high for a single day’s blood drive with City of Hope.
Many donors who came to the school designated their blood donation to City of Hope patient Arash Rounaghi, who is currently battling cancer. Rounaghi is the father of LBHS varsity basketball player and senior Oliver Rounaghi and LBHS varsity basketball player alumnus Arthur Rounaghi, who is currently attending the Air Force Academy. Both sons came to volunteer and participate in the blood donation drive along with the entire LBHS Boys Basketball freshman, junior varsity, and varsity squads.
“The players and head coach Rus Soobzokov did a phenomenal job putting on this community service project, which is the second community service project led by the boys basketball team this year,” LBHS Athletic Booster President Jimmy Azadian said. “We are so proud of the great efforts made and the time invested by our players and coaches in giving back to the community. The team’s focus on giving back and making a positive difference off the court makes all of us proud. It shows how much of an impact high school students and athletes can have in making our community better and stronger, and it holds special meaning for the team because of the positive impact it has on one of the team’s parents, Arash Rounaghi.”
Before the blood drive, parents put on a holiday pancake breakfast for all players and City of Hope staff, serving griddled pumpkin pancakes, bacon and sausage.
“It was a sight to behold,” Azadian said. “The holiday pancake team breakfast gave the team, along with the City of Hope staff the energy they needed to conduct the day-long blood drive. And it also allowed for the team to bond just before the basketball season kicks off in full swing.” The Rounaghi family also created “warrior” t-shirts for the team and each donor for the occasion.
“The message on the t-shirt is inspiring to all who are struggling with something, including those battling cancer,” Azadian said.
Newly-elected Laguna Beach City Councilmember Alex Rounaghi, former head basketball coach Bret Fleming and girls basketball alumnus Anna Cheng, now in her first year at Loyola Marymont University, and Southern Section CIF academic award winner, came out to support the cause.
“I know I speak for our entire basketball family when I say that we are so proud of our players and their dedication to giving back to our community this holiday season,” Azadian added.
The LBHS basketball team and booster club thank head coach Rus Soobzokov, athletics director Denise Selbe, principal Jason Allemann, athletics office assistant Tracy Paddock, the LBHS PTA, assistant superintendent Jeff Dixon, facilities director Ryan Zajda, facilities assistant Ann Moneymaker, and custodian Raymond Hogai for their support of the boys basketball team’s community service project.