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WNBA player Swin Cash set to address annual NAACP dinner

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 8:58 p.m.
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Olympic gold medalist and WNBA superstar Swin Cash, a McKeesport native, will be part of a new all-women sports program on CBS.
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Olympic gold medalist and WNBA superstar Swin Cash, a McKeesport native, is the keynote speaker for the 2013 Human Rights Dinner sponsored by the Pittsburgh NAACP.

Growing up in McKeesport, Swin Cash listened to her adult role models praise the NAACP for its role in fighting for civil rights.

“I was listening to stories from my grandmother, the deacon of my church, my basketball coaches,” said Cash, 33, a high school, collegiate and professional basketball star who plays for the Chicago Sky of the Women's National Basketball Association.

“It was something I was always intrigued by. There's so much happening now, not only in our country but in the world, that organizations like the NAACP cannot take a backseat and think others will get it done.”

Seeking to be more involved, Cash will return home on Thursday as the keynote speaker for the NAACP Pittsburgh chapter's 59th annual Human Rights Dinner. Organizers expect between 800 and 1,000 people.

The event's theme of focusing on younger generations drew in Cash because it aligns with her goal of helping kids, she said. Her charity, Cash for Kids, provides educational and athletic opportunities for underprivileged kids here, in Chicago and in Atlanta, where she lives in the offseason.

“Now is the time to empower the youth, because they are the future,” Cash said.

The dinner, at the Wyndham Grand Hotel, Downtown, will celebrate the NAACP's mission of fighting for everyone's civil rights, said Connie Parker, president of the organization's Pittsburgh unit.

As the NAACP tries to draw more young people to the organization, finding appealing role models such as Cash is increasingly important, she said.

“The response has just been tremendous,” Parker said. “When you have someone like Swin, I'll just take a back seat and let her speak.”

Cash starred at the University of Connecticut, where her teams won two national titles. She was the second overall pick in the 2002 WNBA draft, and her teams have won three league championships. In 2004 and 2012, she won Olympic gold medals in basketball.

The NAACP speaking engagement is the latest chapter in her evolving role of becoming more involved in community outreach, Cash said.

In March, she released her autobiography, “Humble Journey: More Precious Than Gold.” The book chronicles her basketball career and parts of her personal life, such as her cancer diagnosis and treatment.

“It's been really surprising,” Cash said of the response to her book. “I'm so used to people coming up and talking to me about basketball, but now people are coming up and saying, ‘I really learned something about life from your book.'

“It's an awesome feeling. With visibility comes responsibility, not only to myself and my family but to the youth, and to all people who watch me.”

Chris Togneri is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5632 or ctogneri@tribweb.com.

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