LBHS Boys Basketball Team second annual blood drive enjoys large turnout


Around 70 volunteers turned up bright and early to participate in the Laguna Beach High School Boys Basketball Team’s second annual blood drive and pancake breakfast last Sunday, Jan. 28.

The drive was held to benefit cancer patients at the City of Hope’s Orange County treatment centers.

The LBHS Boys Basketball Team and City of Hope staff stand in front of a blood drive truck. Photo/LBHS Basketball

The event, held inside the high school’s Dugger Gym, was started in 2023 to honor team parent Arash Rounaghi and City of Hope. 

“It was the entire team’s idea, supported by our coach Rus Soobzokov,” said Brody Azadian, the team’s varsity team power forward and center. “One of our team parents, Arash Rounaghi, was battling cancer. We came together as a team to vote on what community service project to do, and the team unanimously voted to help Arash and partner with City of Hope to help save Arash’s life and other lives at the City of Hope. On a personal note, my grandmother also battled cancer and, like Arash, won the battle. She’s also a City of Hope patient. What better way to help our community? We’re helping to save lives, and we get to eat a lot of pancakes. That’s a win-win.”

The varsity boys’ basketball team enjoys breakfast before the blood drive. Photo/LBHS Basketball

Approximately 50 units of viable blood were donated thanks to the efforts of the basketball team. 

“It was inspirational to see how our community came out to support our team’s effort,” said Jack Halvorson, the team’s varsity captain and point guard.

Before the blood drive, the team and City of Hope staff feasted on a pancake breakfast held by the team parents, who showed up at sunrise to flip pancakes and grill bacon. 

When it was time for the donors to have their blood drawn, the boy’s basketball team lined up alongside the entrance to the gym to applaud (clap-in) each volunteer as they walked in, many of whom had special ties to the team and school. 

“It was very rewarding to see the strong sense of community within our team, and the support we received from the Laguna Beach community was outstanding,” said Sam Burchi, varsity team center. 

LBHS Boys Basketball alumnus and legend Nolan Naess pictured with team members after donating blood. Naess attends West Point and is a Black Knights West Point Basketball Team member. Photo/LBHS Basketball

After the growing success of their second annual blood drive, the team hopes to inspire other school squads to give back to the community through service projects such as this. 

“Seeing our boys take their weekend time off to help our community made me proud to be their coach,” head coach Rus Soobzokov said. “Arash Rounaghi is a cornerstone of Laguna Beach Basketball and City of Hope has helped to keep him with us for a very long time. We are all Rounaghi Warriors.”

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