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October 9th, 2012
11:37 AM ET

Singer Ashanti and NY Knicks's Allan Houston on "Garden of Dreams"

Madison Square Garden may entertain thousands of fans with sports events and concerts, but it also serves thousands of children in foster care, homeless shelters or hospitals all across the city.

MSG’s “Garden of Dreams” foundation has made special, once-in-a-lifetime experiences a reality for a nearly a quarter of a million of these children since 2006. These experiences offer exclusive access to MSG celebrities, events and venues. One event held yesterday featured the New York Knicks, Rangers and even the Radio City Rockettes.

Grammy Award-Winning Singer/Songwriter Ashanti and current NY Knicks Assistant General Manager and legendary former Knicks player Allan Houston are two of the big names who make a difference through the Garden of Dreams. They joined the Soledad and the “Starting Point” team this morning to share their experience.

“It’s a wonderful foundation,” Ashanti says about her affiliation with Garden of Dreams. “It creates unique experiences for kids to kind of just experience their dreams,” she says. “Being a part of that is absolutely an honor.”

O’Brien asks if the foundation offers a lasting experience that transcends one day at these iconic locations. “It’s just so much that they do,” for underprivileged children that includes afterschool programs, Houston answers. “It’s like a family that continues to grow,” Ashanti adds. “You begin to see the same kids over and over.”

Houston explains that Madison Square Garden and the Garden of Dreams foundation is really a combined effort rather than simply the Knicks or the Rangers. “It takes all of these, the whole brand, and kind of wraps it all together and provides this experience.” He shares his favorite event, a talent show at Radio City Music Hall. “You have all these kids” who are singing, dancing or doing poetry. “They can actually walk on Radio City Music Hall and show their gifts and talents.”

CNN Political Analyst Roland Martin then grills Houston on the Knicks’ stats and performance. However, Houston only has kind words and gifts to share in response in friendly Garden of Dreams fashion.

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