Colin McConnell thinks all people should have a chance at a loving home.
That includes little people.
McConnell, a successful Rochester-area entrepreneur, has a unique relationship with his cause: while growing up in Troy, one of his best friends was a little person, or dwarf, himself. That friend, Marty Klebba, is now a Hollywood star best known for his role as Marty, a crew member of Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean.
Klebba and McConnell are still good friends and are working together on a charity basketball game to help dwarf orphans get adopted.
The game will be played April 1 at Oakland University between a team of celebrities and the Statesmen, a team of medal-winning dwarf basketball players.
"In other countries, just because you're born different you're treated horribly," McConnell said. "In other countries if you're born a dwarf, it's even worse. I've heard of dwarf children being put in dumpsters. I've heard of them being kept in cribs around the clock.
"My goal is to get kids out of these situations and put into loving homes. I live my life that it doesn't matter the gender, race or size of a child — they need a good home."
And that's where Kid Rock comes in.
McConnell knows that for his basketball game to be a success, he needs a big-name celebrity to help draw a mass crowd. Kid Rock had a longtime friend, known as Joe C., who was affected by dwarfism. Joe C. toured with Kid Rock until he died in 2000.
"Kid Rock loves basketball, he loves Detroit and he had a dear friend who was a little person," McConnell said.
"This game was tailored for him."
Make it viral
McConnell has reached out to Kid Rock's "people." He says he's almost there. But he needs a little something more — an extra push to get his invitation noticed. That's why he has decided to shoot a series of what he's calling viral videos — that is, videos that he'll send out via social media to hopefully reach the rocker himself.
The video shoot is planned for noon-2 p.m. Sunday at Main Street Billiards.
McConnell knows all about social media: that's his area of expertise. He is the founder of BizMatchConnect, a networking service that helps businesses connect via Facebook and other online channels.
He founded the business two years ago but has been networking all of his life. (As a kid growing up in Troy, McConnell would accompany his dad to trade shows, where he would collect business cards from vendors and then take them home to organize by color and category.)
Last fall, McConnell was named Rochester's Young Professional of the Year by the Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce. He said charititable business efforts are one of his main goals.
Which brings us to the basketball game.
Game for a cause
Because of his relationship with lifelong friend Klebba, McConnell works closely with the Coalition for Dwarf Advocacy, also known as CoDA. Klebba serves on the board of directors for the organization, which formed in 2006 to advocate for dwarfs and raise money to support their adoptions.
This will be the third celebrity vs. dwarf game McConnell and Klebba have collaborated on.
"With the money we've raised, we've helped eight kids get adopted so far," McConnell said. "Our goal is to keep the momentum going."
McConnell is working to line up celebrities for this year's game. On Friday, radio personality Mojo of 95.5 WKQI (FM) committed to being a part of the game.
Tickets to the April game are $30 and can be purchased by emailing McConnell at Colin@bizmatchconnect.com. He promises there will be a few surprises, too.
"If you could spend $30 to get a child adopted ... would you?" McConnell asks.
About Sunday's video shoot: Anyone is welcome to attend the event from noon to 2 p.m. at Main Street Billiards, McConnell said. There will be food and soda, and a few giveaways, too. McConnell is encouraging everyone to wear Detroit attire. Tickets for the April basketball game can also be purchased at the video shoot.
For more about the game or the video shoot, visit www.fb.com/bizmatchconnect