Lancaster backyard basketball court needs an assist from community

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LANCASTER, Pa. - Dropping a dime, a slang term for providing an assist, is a fairly common occurrence on a basketball court.

Dave Porter, a homeowner who has run Tornado Alley, a basketball court in his backyard dedicated to keeping at-risk youth off the streets for the past 15 years, is hoping people drop plenty of dimes (and dollars, too) to help him keep the court open.

Porter says he has fallen behind on his mortgage, after investing thousands of dollars to make Tornado Alley a safe place to play for children.

"It's a dream come true, my Field of Dreams," Porter said.  "It's been a blessing. I wish it could last forever, but nothing lasts forever."

Dozens of children from around Ruby Street in Lancaster typically end up at Tornado Alley on a daily basis looking for a place to play.

"At other parks, there's a lot of fighting," said Rafael Perez, a basketball player.  "Here, we all get along, we just all hang out, play football and basketball."

"I come here after I do homework and after I read my books," said Damoj Gray, who has been playing basketball at the Alley for the last two years. "It keeps me off the streets and doing bad stuff."

"[It's an] opportunity to stay out of trouble, and once you're done with your homework, come out here and do this," said Kenyan Bair, a basketball player.

Porter is fighting foreclosure on two fronts: by soliciting donations through a GoFundMe campaign, and searching for a buyer for his home in the hopes that buyer will keep the dream of Tornado Alley alive.

"I used to have a lot of fun when I was a kid playing ball out here," Porter said. "The simple things in life are what's important."

Those simple things are what Porter says he is trying to protect.

"If it wasn't here, we'd all be sad because Dave spent a lot of money, his parents passed it on to Dave for generations," Gray said.

"It would really be kind of boring because at the park, it's really hard for us to play because there's older kids, and here there's younger kids, and we all get to have fun," Perez added.

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