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Opening night to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters
L.A. Lightning will debut on May 12

The Los Angeles Lightning will tip off the 2012 pro basketball season in big style by hosting a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ventura County on May 12-13 at Cal Lutheran in Thousand Oaks. The Lightning, featuring a star-studded lineup of ex-NBA players, has implemented a new Ticket-Split online program, powered by Vendini Ticket Systems. Local charities, high schools and non-profit organizations will receive 50 percent of the proceeds from tickets they sell.

“We are here for the community and I feel our new Ticket-Split program is groundbreaking,” said owner and general manager Mark Harwell, who created the Lightning in 2007. “What’s great about this program is any charity or nonprofit that’s trying to raise money can send their followers or donors to our site to purchase tickets.”

The system prompt will ask if the buyer is associated with a Los Angeles Lightning fundraising group. A drop-down menu will appear revealing all the participating groups. The buyer then chooses the group that will benefit and the system tracks and routes the money based on that choice.

The Lightning will play 12 of its 15 games at home. They’ll open against the Battle Creek Knights on May 12-13 at 7 p.m. in the Gilbert Sports Arena.

The Lightning plays an exciting, high-scoring brand of basketball, featuring former NBA players like Lamond Murray, Toby Bailey, Bryon Russell, Fred Vinson, Juaquin Hawkins, Darrick Martin and Tyus Edney.

Trayvon Lathan, Billy Knight, Kamran Sufi, Chris Ayer, Adam Parada and Senator Tony Strickland have also been key components on a team that captured the International Basketball League title in its second season in 2009. Murray, who once scored 41 points in an NBA game, was the MVP that year for the Lightning. Russell reached the NBA Finals three times with the Utah Jazz and L.A. Lakers and Bailey helped UCLA capture its last NCAA title in 1995.

Vinson, an assistant coach for the New Orleans Hornets, once made 15 3-pointers in a game. He‘s one of the Lightning’s original Big Three, along with Murray and Bailey. He‘s been the floor general and heart and soul of the team. Lathan, a 6-8 guard, was the Lightning’s top scorer (26 ppg) and rebounder (11.5) in their last season. L.A. has won 19 of its last 22 at home.

Ron Quarterman returns for his fourth season as head coach.

The Lightning will move to a new league this year while playing the same opponents. They’ve joined the Independent Basketball Association, which was created after the IBL was sold in 2011. The IBA acquired several former IBL teams and has expanded quickly in the North American market with an eye toward international development.

“We appreciate (ex-commissioner) Mikal Duilio and all of his accomplishments with the IBL. He is a great visionary and I have a lot of respect for him,” said Harwell. “I wish the former league the best in their future endeavors. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to come to terms over licensing issues, so we move forward to play in the IBA and continue planning our tours in Europe and Asia as well as creating a global product.”

The Big Brothers Big Sisters is the oldest, most recommended, high-impact mentoring organization in the United States, making a powerful difference in the lives of youth facing adversity -- changing their lives for the better, forever -- by putting consistent, caring adults in their lives.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ventura County helps children facing adversity to reach their potential through professionally supported, one-to-one adult mentoring relationships, with measurable results. A 2009 study, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Big Brothers Big Sisters, found that adults who were mentored as children report that having a “Big” played a role in who they are today by positively building their self-confidence, providing stability, changing their perspective on life and pushing them to set higher goals.

Any charity, non-profit or school that would like to participate in the Ticket-Split program should contact Mark Harwell.

For ticket information, visit the Lighting Community page. For information on Big Brothers Big Sisters, visit their web site at

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